#27 On facing loss as a solopreneur

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I was barely in year two of running my business when my dad died. I was home alone working at the time when my half sister called me with the news. It was around 10 in the morning. After hanging up with her, I dazily called my mother (who hadn’t been with my dad in some time) and Brandon, who I was living with but not yet married to at the time.

And then I realized, shit, I have a client call in an hour. Then a work happy hour. Then another client thing tomorrow.

I frantically texted or emailed everyone on my calendar for the next couple weeks and told them the news. There were some things, like workshops I was leading, that had to get super rescheduled or worked around. One workshop was not movable; my client justifiably got someone else to lead it but I lost the revenue from that and a couple other things.

Brandon went to work, as he should have. My home was my office; the only thing that separated my working from not working was my choosing to not open my computer. But I still had to open it to figure out funeral stuff. I had to book flights; I wanted to connect with friends and family. I get clients all over the place – in social media direct messages, via text and phone calls, some find my personal email – so honestly, the only place I was really escaping work fully was by avoiding my work inbox.

Which was a mistake, as I had forgotten to put up an autoresponse, and I’d also forgotten to block my calendar on Calendly, which clients and prospects use to schedule meetings with me. After two weeks away, I had several prospective clients reach out to me there and a few meetings I couldn’t make scheduled. I had to message them all back and apologize.

I asked a friend who runs a branding studio for solopreneurs what she thought I should do on Instagram, where I’d already begun marketing my business. She said to do whatever felt right and most genuine. My business account and personal account are one and the same. I shared a post on my dad’s loss, and went off Insta for what felt like two months but was only a week (trust me, if you’re marketing on there, one week can feel like a millennia). But not everyone sees posts and the algorithm often shows older posts, so I was still getting DMs and comments and outreach that I was not responding to and getting stressed out via my own non responsiveness.

Basically, I was a mess. Luckily, humans are kind and empathetic and absolutely everyone was very understanding once I did connect. Yet I couldn’t help but wonder how different things may have been had I had both more cognitive and physical distance from my workplace as well as a team to help manage my business while I was dealing with personal stuff.

I’ve had a business coach and I’ve had a virtual assistant at times. I didn’t then, and I’m not sure if either would have been prepped to step in and actually run (or even press pause on) my business when I couldn’t. I’m not sure if working toward that relationship with a new coach or assistant is the right thing to focus on now. I have so many balls up in the air; prepping for potential personal crises seems low on the ranking but maybe I’m wrong.

Although I also know there’s no right or wrong way to deal with these things. The one thing I wasn’t was lonely. I appreciated the solo time to mourn by myself and, in the evenings and mornings, with Brandon. I spent a lot of it looking up rescue dogs online, and eventually found Fletcher. But I know other solopreneurs out there find solace in the company of others. This experience would be extra crappy for them without an office mate or two to turn to.

I also know loss – solopreneur agnostic – sucks, and that suckiness is always entirely personal. This isn’t about social impact, but it is about my business – and I like sharing some of that behind the scenes stuff occasionally. I just wanted to share my story. If you can relate, I’d love to hear yours. xx

Random MusingsHannah Gay