Starting your own business is a tough ol' gig! You put hours upon hours into it, yet get knocked back on a daily basis. Everybody who's in business will most likely encounter problems, but for a select few, that’s only half the battle.
Tens of thousands of people around the world have to fight two battles each day — one with their business, and the other with their disease. But let me assure you: You are not alone.
To my fellow business owners with chronic illness:
We are the select few who find day-to-day challenges a struggle due to our health, and yet still battle on to create our little empires.
We don’t let anything stop us. We have a huge fire in our bellies that drives us on despite our personal struggles.
I’ve been battling Crohn's disease since I was 16 years old. It gives me intense stomach pain on a daily basis and extreme fatigue (sometimes just climbing stairs is hard), and it massively knocked all the confidence out of me. Not the best situation to be in when starting your own business!
At the height of my disease, I found it hard to get out of bed, despite knowing that I had work to do. I found it hard to stay motivated, as my constant pain was a huge distraction. I found it hard to pick up the phone to call anyone because my confidence was so low.
That didn’t make me lazy. It was the most aggravating thing to want something, but to not have the mental or physical capacity to achieve it.
It's like desperately needing to pee, but not being able to go to the bathroom.
You’re anxiously wriggling around, but you just can't get to where you want to be (weird metaphor, I know).
Once I started to understand and take control of my chronic illness, it became easier each day. Still, there is always the same struggle — the same pain and lack of confidence.
Despite all of the pain and quirks that come with Crohn's disease, I probably wouldn't have changed my business journey so far. I've learned to cope with both physical and emotional pain, and I’ve grown the thicker skin that comes along with it (which is always a bonus).
So if you have your own business — or want to start one — and have a chronic illness or disability, here are my tips for you:
1. Know Your Limits
Only you know how far you can push yourself before it's too much. Never go beyond — you'll end up regretting it. Yes, some people might not understand at first, but you need to put your health first.
2. Be Upfront
If you’re working with other people, it will be easier to be upfront with them about your health so that it's not a surprise to them if you need to take a back seat.
3. Don't Fret!
Starting your own business can be a scary thing, and even scarier when you have health issues. But you will never be alone. There will be a network of people to support you, no matter what you choose to do.
A Final Thought
Battling both business challenges and chronic illness at once has no simple answers, but you're never alone. There are people with the same struggles as you all over the world who have succeeded — and that, for me, is a big motivator.