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Times of Grief as a Business Owner

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Last Updated on 22nd November 2021 by Dan Maby

Yesterday I sat with a family member, listening and comforting, as they planned their funeral. This family member has a diagnosis that has given them an estimated timeline for the remainder of their life – weeks.

As they sat there talking, knowing they fully understood all they spoke about, I felt a deep sadness. They talked about music, the venue, the people they would like involved, the clothes they would be dressed in, and the eco-friendly cardboard coffin they would finally be laid to rest in.

It was a hard conversation – there were moments of joyful reflection but mostly sadness.

As I undertook the 4 hours journey back home, I couldn’t help but reflect on my own life. As I thought about this family member – retired from work – my mind wandered to questions like; “What if I passed now, what challenges would my young family need to deal with?”, “I’m a gatekeeper for lots of information within my business, what would happen there?”, and “I’ve never given thought to any continuity planning, I really should!”.

It can be hard to talk about grief. As a business owner, there can be additional complications and things to consider.

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Dealing with Grief as a Business Owner

Grief can mean many things – grief for a loved one, grief for your livelihood, grief for the people who depended on you, and grief for all of those things that were important to you before but now seem inconsequential. So how do we deal with grief as business owners? That’s what I plan to explore in this article: from dealing with grief as a solo-business owner or freelancer to preparing for the future if a transition is ever needed within your business.

During WordFest Live – July 2021 – Rene Morozowich delivered a powerful session entitled Practical Strategies for Grieving as a Freelancer or Agency Owner. During this session, Rene shares some of her personal experiences in dealing with grief. The session offers practical steps that can be taken as business owners.

I’ve also previously written about dealing with grief in isolation, in which I touch on the five stages of grief.

If you are a business owner dealing with grief, I recommend taking the time to watch through Rene’s session. If you need further support, please reach out to the Big Orange Heart team to discuss your needs.

Practical Steps for Continuity Planning

Considering your own demise is not something many of us would consider a productive use of our time. However, as business owners, we have a responsibility to plan for the future – particularly if others rely on our business, such as employees.

Sharing of Information

Gatekeeping information is a trap that we can easily fall into, especially if we are solo-business owners, freelancers, or contractors. It can be entirely unintentional, but it’s something we need to consider.

If you were suddenly unavailable, would those picking up the baton be able to access all the information they need? This may not even relate to the continuity of your business – if a family member needed to shut the business down on your behalf, would they be able to access the accounts required?

Passwords, relevant tax information, insurance are just a few examples of items we keep private – and often for very good reason. But take yourself out of the equation – can the people that now need this information gain access?

Password managers can be a handy tool to support the continuity of your business. For example – LastPass offers a feature called Emergency Access. With Emergency Access, you can grant one-time access to your LastPass Vault to one or more designated emergency contacts. There are appropriate safety measures in place to ensure this feature is not abused.

The sharing of information in a responsible way is critical in the forward planning of your business. There needs to be a measured and safe approach. Look for ways to enable access, especially if tools such as multi-factor authentication are used.

Remove the Question Marks

If the worst has happened to you and loved ones are now trying to pick up the pieces and come to terms with your loss – then let’s help them in any little way we can by planning forward.

We can help answer questions and prevent loved ones, family members, and colleges from being lost in the dark about our intentions when we are gone. As is typical with our personal possessions – we outline our desires and wishes in a Last Will and Testament. The same can be applied to our businesses.

We advise taking professional legal advice on how best to implement this and communicating your intentions with those relevant to it.

Taking the time to plan in this way will help remove ambiguity about your desires and remove the need for those less familiar with your business to make decisions and answer difficult questions.

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You’re Not Alone

If, like many people, your livelihood relies on your ability to be successful and stay afloat in your industry. But when the unthinkable happens, such as the death of someone close or a significant downturn in your business, it may seem impossible to pick yourself up and go on with life while still making ends meet. That’s where Big Orange Heart can come in: we understand that sometimes it takes more than just time and patience to heal grief and get back on track. We’re here for you and can help you work through challenging situations so that you can keep operating at a level you’re comfortable with.

When grief strikes, it can be challenging to keep moving forward. Make sure you take the time for yourself that’s needed.

Continuity planning may not feel like something you want to get into but think about how your actions may impact loved ones and those around you if the worst happens. Right now, we can help them to feel more prepared for when grief hits.

If grief has hit you or your business recently, please know that the Big Orange Heart support team are available to talk with.

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