How to Run a Business with a Chronic Illness

If you’re one of the 40 million Americans who have a chronic illness that limits your daily activities, starting a business may seem impossible. You may feel like you wouldn’t be able to manage your complex health needs while meeting the demands of running a small business. But I’m living proof that with some careful planning and organization, you can still be a successful business owner or freelancer.

 I’ve had my own writing business for over two years now despite having POTS, a condition that causes brain fog, fatigue, and rapid heart rate upon standing. To help you start your own entrepreneurial journey, here are some of my best tips on how to run a business when you have chronic health problems.

Set Realistic Deadlines 

If your symptoms are unpredictable and can flare up at any time, it’s important to give yourself extra time to get your work done. It takes me longer to do things than the average person because of my symptoms, so I make sure to account for that in my turnaround times. 

I also like to start working on an assignment the moment my client gives it to me and get it to at least the halfway point. That way I know that if I do get sick and am unable to work for a day or two, I’ll still be able to meet my deadline. 

Communicate With Your Clients

Even if you give yourself extra time to complete an assignment, you may still run into situations where you can’t meet your deadline. The most important thing is to communicate with your client when you think you won’t be able to get a deliverable in on time. Don’t wait until after the deadline has passed to let them know.

As soon as you feel worried that you might be late, give them a quick heads-up. Most people are very understanding when health problems crop up and you can’t work, so my advice is to just be honest. 

Don’t Be Afraid to Outsource 

It’s hard to run a business all by yourself, especially when you have chronic health problems. Instead of trying to wear all the hats in my business and run myself ragged, I outsource things I’m not good at, like taxes and graphic design. Although I don’t do this myself, many freelancers even bring on subcontractors to help them with client work.

Having someone else on your team can reduce the number of hours you need to work so you can take care of your health. Keep in mind that this business model only works if you can command a high enough rate to pay your subcontractors while still having money left over for yourself. 

Create Passive Income Streams 

Another way to reduce the number of hours you need to work is create passive revenue streams for your business. If you’re a graphic designer, for example, you could start selling digital cards on Etsy to make some extra money every month. If you can make one product in a few hours and sell it over and over again, you won’t need to work as much to meet your income goals.

Setting up passive income streams can help you maintain a good work-life balance so you don’t burn out. Although running a business with a chronic illness is challenging, it’s definitely possible. Hopefully these tips will help you structure your business in a way that enables you to make money while still taking care of your health.