Many business owners swear by the principle of separating work and personal life, and it’s one of the best business principles there is—except that it may be impossible to achieve at times, especially during a personal crisis. Business owners who go through a divorce, a death, a mental health problem, an illness, or any life-altering event often find it hard to perform at their best. And it’s perfectly acceptable; more common than most people would think, in fact.
It can often feel impossible to keep running the business as usual when facing a major personal crisis, but there are many ways to cope and come out of the woods stronger than ever before. If you or someone you know are going through a crisis while trying to keep the business running, here are actionable ways to thrive—or even survive for now:
1. Step back
This may be the last thing you want to do–especially when you are a hands-on business owner—but trying to do everything yourself while in a crisis outside of work can do more harm than good. In this case, stepping back and letting someone else take the reins for a while might be the best move—not only for the business but for your physical and mental health as well.
For instance, if you are going through a divorce, stepping away from the business can give you more time to talk to a divorce lawyer and get things over with as quickly as possible—like ripping a thorn out of your skin. The time off work can also give you a chance to heal more healthily instead of spending too much energy trying to keep up appearances at work.
2. Cut your hours
If stepping back totally is not an option, consider cutting down your time at the business instead. Your business will likely not fall apart if you spend less time at work, so don’t be afraid to loosen your grip on the steering wheel. When you get home, spend time with yourself and with loved ones that can help you get through whatever you’re facing. Leave work at work. Remember: the faster you recover from this crisis, the sooner you can get back to your business.
3. Explain the situation to your closest colleagues
Many business owners may be hesitant to let other people know about personal crises, let alone the people they work with or work for them. However, explaining the situation to other people—even if it’s just your closest partners or employees—can help them understand why you may not be in your element when you show up to the business. It’s not about asking for sympathy—it’s about making a preemptive measure for instances where you may not perform at your best. If your business partners or managers understand, they will be better able to help you run the business.
4. Talk to a lawyer and a financial advisor
One of the biggest worries of business owners when going through a death or divorce is how it can affect their finances. If, for example, your former spouse is a stakeholder in your business, you would want to get legal advice for how the settlement will go when your spouse decides to withdraw.
On the other hand, if death has significantly affected your personal finances (especially if it involves large medical bills) and you have to dip into your business funds, consulting a financial advisor can help keep the effect on your business to a minimum. Although the last thing you want is to access your business funds for personal use, you never know when you need to do it when things go south.
5. Seek therapy
When going through a negatively life-altering event, one of the best ways to cope is to go into therapy. Too many entrepreneurs make the mistake of not treating their mental health as a priority, and it almost always results in worse problems, both physically and mentally. Thus, seeking professional help is likely the best move on your part when going through such a tough time.
Moreover, therapy can help you establish healthy coping mechanisms that you would need to keep running your business as normally as possible while still keeping your mental health in check. And again, the faster you recover, the sooner things can return to business as usual.
A personal crisis shouldn’t drive a wedge between your business and success. By applying these strategies in your own life, you can come out of any hurdle stronger than before—and perhaps even make you a better business owner.