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Navigating Work + Life in Times of Crisis

When you first set out to start a business, not many people think about what might happen when a crisis arises, and some things just can’t be predicted. While it’s great to have a safety net in place in the event of an emergency, there’s no telling what short-term or long-term effects it may have on your business.

Unfortunately, there’s really no one-size-fits-all guidebook for each scenario that may pop up. But know this–your business doesn’t have to suffer when life gets in the way. 

First, have a plan of action 

Life happens, and a crisis doesn’t warn anyone. However, it’s always better to have the necessary measures in place and not need them than to scramble to pick up the pieces and backtrack from a major mess.

Starting with your clients, Megan Breukelman of Megan & Kenneth suggests having backups from the start, just in case. “Prepare alternative options for your clients prior to communicating with them. Whether you have an associate taking over or a direct referral to another business, make your clients’ lives as easy as possible. A seamless transition will make it easier for everyone, and your clients will be grateful for your problem-solving skills.”

If you’ve already hit a speed bump, Jen Sulak of Weirdo Weddings recommends: “Don't ignore the signs. It is possible the things that happened could have been prevented, and we just didn't see the signs. Going forward, make a few notations on why this might have happened and what you saw or didn't see that led up to it. Not everything may have a root issue, but taking the time to look at it will be something you thank yourself for later, and you can help others from your own mistakes and insights!” 

The balancing act of work & life when crisis comes along 

The real question is: how can you take a curveball without skipping a beat? Admittedly, it’s not easy (and sometimes impossible), but there are plenty of things you can do to navigate work and life if one of them falls to the wayside.

Nora Sheils of Bridal Bliss and Rock Paper Coin emphasizes the need to ask for help when you need it. “Handling life, in general, during times of crisis is hard. How to balance all the things really depends on the type of crisis you are dealing with, but one thing rings true - you have to ask for help. Whether it's with kids, dinners, or work, there are people ready to support you. All you have to do is be vulnerable and ask!”

Beyond that, it’s important to have healthy measures in place–before, during, and after crisis. “Valuing yourself and your team by incorporating self-care routines will foster mental health, lower stress levels, and improve physical health. Rather than investing in a shiny new piece of equipment, placing aside a budget for team self-care is an investment that will offer you an ROI that will far exceed any return a piece of equipment may produce,” notes Sarah Chianese of Mangia and Enjoy!

Adding in a buffer can also help tremendously. “One of the most important aspects to help avoid burnout, imbalance, and stress is to schedule margin in your life. Leave one to two hours a day open. We need that margin to handle the unexpected urgent (and important) things that pop up. But we also need it to breathe, to take a break, to have lunch with a friend or your kids, to take a walk. That margin is essential to a balanced schedule and life,” says Troy Adams of Make Your Business Dance

Setting your team up for success 

If worst comes to worst and you need to take a step back from your business temporarily, it’s crucial that your team knows exactly what to do in your absence. 

According to Mandy Hess of MJM Designs, SOPs are going to be your lifesaver. “Make sure your SOPs are easily accessible and able to be read accurately; that way, your staff knows what to do when you need time away from the business.”

“Implementing software that allows you to monitor your employees' progress and effectiveness will allow you to avoid having to spend your time dialoguing with an entire team while you are gone,” says Colton Simmons of Colton Simmons Photography. “Setting up your CRMs in such a way that allows you to peek into the day-to-day operations without physically being in the office can allow you to focus on the personal matters you have going on.”

Delegation is key, adds Vijay Goel of Bite Catering Couture. “Create a plan for each person, even if it is simple. If they know what they can best do to help, most people will focus on the things you've asked them to do to the best of their abilities.”

The unexpected is always on the horizon, but with proper planning, you can remain relatively stable without feeling like your business or your life has spun out of control. 


Meghan Ely

President, OFD Consulting, Richmond, VA

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast. 

Photo: Melody Smith Portraits