Handling Medical Emergencies As a Business Owner

As a business owner, you have a lot of responsibility. You’re the chief visionary, manager, and sometimes implementer as well. So, what happens if you get sick? You may not have given it much thought. Perhaps you just hope you won’t get sick, or you take good care of your health. But accidents — or even a major illness — can happen to anyone. You want to make sure your business can continue to move forward and serve customers even if you aren’t available.

How do you do this? It takes a bit of planning, but with some forethought, you can set up your company to succeed even if you have to step away for a while.

Set Aside Some Cash

If you don’t have any employees or are a solo entrepreneur, you’ll need money set aside in case you need time off. This is a good idea if you have employees as well, but it’s essential if you’re on your own. 

Not setting money aside when you’re able to work is a common mistake new business owners make. Having that cushion makes a big difference when you need to be off work for a week or two. 

Keep in mind that if you work alone and have to be away for an extended period, you may have to build your business back up when you return. If you have employees, you should figure out who to delegate responsibilities to in emergency situations. 

Delegate Responsibility

As a business owner, it’s easy to feel like you’re the best at everything in your business. Even if you have employees and others who help you, it’s common to keep the final say for yourself. Unfortunately, this can cripple your company if there’s an emergency and you’re gone.

Instead, have people who can take over operations if you’re not available. This might be high-level employees, a partner, or your front-line staff. 

Also, make sure that your employees have good working relationships with your clients. If you are the only point-of-contact your clients know, it will be difficult for your business to continue successfully if you have to be away due to an emergency.

To avoid this difficulty, make sure you have a communication plan to let clients know what’s going on. The more clients you have, the more challenging this is, especially if your medical emergency is serious. 

Prepare For Large or Small Issues

Having a clear continuity plan in case you have to be away from your company for a time is essential, but don’t overlook the fact that not every medical emergency is major.

For instance, dental emergencies or surgery can put you out for several days or a week. It’s no less important to succeed during that time than it is if you’re out for weeks. Can your business succeed if you’re gone for 5 days or two weeks?

COVID-19 is a good example of an unpredictable illness that either can either leave you incapacitated for a couple of days or a couple of weeks. It could cause you to miss work with no warning. A positive test means you need to leave work immediately and go home, where you must stay for two weeks.

Avoidance is key when it comes to COVID-19. Your company should already have protocols to prevent the spread of the virus. But in the unfortunate circumstance that you as a business leader test positive, you must establish a chain of command to make the business run as usual. You may be incapacitated for days or weeks, but there should always be someone running your ship. 

Establishing your chain of command is one of the first steps you should take in preparing for the worst medical scenario. The second — and equally important — step is to establish your health coverage.

Have Appropriate Health Coverage

It’s unfortunately quite common to skip buying health insurance. Buying coverage on your own is expensive and it’s tempting to put every extra dollar into the company. But unfortunately, if something happens to you, the results can be catastrophic. When you can’t afford your medical bills and you’re away from work, your business won’t thrive. Instead, your financial problems could ultimately cause your business to stagnate, or even fall apart. 

To prevent this, make sure you have appropriate health coverage. Your coverage should include the preventive care you need and even disability coverage in case you’re permanently injured. The monthly expenses may be intimidating, but they’re a lot less than the payments you’ll make for an emergency without coverage. However, these monthly expenses will be paid in vain if you don’t strategically pay your medical bills when an accident does occur. 

Avoid Putting Yourself Behind

Paying for medical care is another important part of preparing for a medical emergency. Setting money aside is a big part of this as well. 

You might be tempted to use a credit card for medical bills, but it’s not a good idea. Credit card interest rates are extremely high, and a $1,000 bill can multiply quickly. Plus, as a business owner, your personal credit rating and financial situation could affect your company.

If you have significant medical bills, find a way to make other payment arrangements. There are medical-specific credit accounts you can use, or longer-term payment plans you can set up with the provider. Making arrangements will help keep your business moving forward as you recover and get back on track!

The Right Preparation Leads to Success

It’s easy to assume that as you create and build your business nothing bad is going to happen to you personally. Medical emergencies don’t even cross your mind until they occur. Unfortunately, this assumption is a recipe for disaster.

Using these tips, you can prepare for possible emergencies so you don’t lose your business and your livelihood. By saving up a financial cushion, delegating, making sure you have appropriate coverage, and being ready for any size emergency, you’ll be on the path to success.

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