How to Deal with Clients During a Family Emergency
As an entrepreneur, I love being able to set my own schedule, wear whatever I want and the ability to go work at my local coffee shop.
While the perks of being not working for anyone else are many, when a family emergency arises you can’t just call your boss, say you’ll be out for a while and then let her handle getting others to cover your work.
Many entrepreneurs became their own bosses to allow for more family time and flexibility, but when your paycheck depends on your presence it can be scary to walk away from your desk for a while.
Here’s how to handle the situation so you can honor your value of family without neglecting your clients.
3 Tips for Dealing with Family Emergencies as an Entrepreneur
1 - Explain the situation to your clients
Entrepreneurs tend to bend over backwards to meet deadlines and deliverables to keep the client happy, but it just isn’t possible to do that 100% of the time. Your clients may be more understanding than you anticipate; after all, they are human and have loved ones and feelings, too.
While they should understand if you just say you have a “family emergency,” there’s always the question if you are using this as an excuse just to get out of doing something. Give them as much information as you feel comfortable providing.
For example, something such as “my mother is in hospice” lets the client know the scope of your situation without you having to get into the details of how she got there or the details of her current condition.
2 - Set timeline expectations to avoid frustration
Let your client know how long you plan to be out of the office so they can determine the impact of your absence on their project.
Sometimes when a family emergency happens, you may not have all the information you need to tell them an accurate timeline. For example, you may not know how long someone will be in the hospital until after professionals have had a chance to assess.
It’s okay to tell your client you don’t know your timeline, but set regular intervals to keep them informed. For example, you could say “I’ll provide you with and update by the end of the day Friday.”
If it looks like your absence is going to be extended, you may want to offer to let your client work with someone else.
3 - Give yourself time to grieve, heal and help
Family emergencies send ripple effects through your entire life. Your home, self and diet may suffer neglect. Give yourself some time to get your life back in order before you jump back in to work fulltime.
Ease yourself back in part time, if possible, for a few weeks. Or, if you can, consider hiring someone to clean your house or other tasks you can outsource to lighten some of your own load.
It will take some time to get back into your normal or new routine, so be gentle on yourself as you go through this process.
Taking time off as an entrepreneur can be stressful and unsettling – remind yourself part of the reason you wanted to become your own boss was for flexibility in cases such as an emergency.