Over the past year I’ve heard “it’s not personal, it’s business” from almost every mentor-esq figure I’ve had. My question is when exactly does personal meet professional? For me, living with a chronic illness and trying to run a business, everything feels personal. If you wouldn’t have had a flare, you would have gotten that order out in time. If you didn’t have three doctor appointments and labs this week, you would have had more energy to answer emails or schedule social media posts. Your illness affects everything about your life, including your business.
Taking the leap of faith to start a business from the ground up is work. Long, backbreaking hard work. Hundreds of thousands of hours, blood, sweat and tears go into building a business. Not to mention almost every cent you have. There are no department heads or office managers; as a small business owner you do everything yourself. You labor over every detail, you lose sleep studying Facebook ads creation and search engine optimization tips. Your business becomes you and you become your business.
When a customer complains, when there’s a shipping disaster or a charge dispute, your mind tells you it is not personal, it’s just business. But it still stings a little bit. I mean, you’re human, of course it does. Like any other business owner, when you go down the ship goes down too, but for me, as a chronic illness patient, everything is a little more hectic and seemingly always personal. For example, as a patient, when you go down, your downtime can be lengthy and your customer’s patience thin.
There’s always this constant mental battle between sharing your health woes to explain your less than professional professionalism and not wanting to be pitied or accused of “using your illness” as an excuse. Truthfully I know it’s not supposed to be personal, it’s not supposed to be about me, but the thing is, for me to deny my struggles as a patient and how they affect my business is another form of invisibility. I don’t want to make excuses, I don’t even want people to maybe not want a refund because of delayed sickness shipping; but I do wish I had a bit more understanding from everyone.