How To Manage A Business When You're Sick

14 Steps To Managing Your Sickness And Absence As A Business Owner

Getting ill is a natural phenomenon and you don’t have to beat yourself up for falling sick. Considering the amount of work our body does each day, it is a miracle that it keeps running and going.

Illness can strike at any time.

The worst fear of any business owner is to wake up with a stuffy nose and a body temperature. Nobody likes to get sick and you might want to stay in bed all day, doing nothing but relaxing.

However, there are clients whose emails you have to respond to, customers to be attended to and employees that need orders. This is why staying in bed might not be such a good option for you.

Putting things into perspective, it is highly probable that you won’t give in your best while you are sick. You might want to push yourself up and drag your feet to the office, however, I will urge you to fall back on that bed, call a friend or relative and let them come take care of you.

The odd sick day isn’t likely to harm your business, but long-term sickness could have a detrimental effect on your company.

If you’re too ill to manage the day to day tasks, you may have no chance to close your business. This could have a harmful impact on your company’s reputation and may prevent you from paying company bills as you’ll no longer be making an income.

Fortunately, there are ways to protect your business if you fall sick. Here are just a few preventative measures that you can take to stop the illness from damaging your business.

1. Work on creating an autonomous business

An autonomous business is able to keep operating even without senior management. To get to this stage, you need to grow your business to a point in which you can hire enough employees or outsource enough services. They will take care of all the core business tasks without your supervision.

This involves being able to trust the people you hire and outsource to make decisions for you and potentially view sensitive company data. You can then take a backseat and let your business run without you.

Of course, many business owners that get to this stage still like to play a major role in their company. The difference is that you have the choice to step back if needs be. Creating an autonomous business is no easy task and could take years of hard work to achieve.

There are other options which could be easier to obtain. This includes creating a semi-autonomous business, which you still handle the admin such as the payroll and managing stock. Then your employees can carry out all other duties in your company.

For example, a construction business could allow you to relieve yourself of the physical work when ill and simply do the digital work. Another option meanwhile could be to hire and train up an assistant manager who can step in when you’re unable to do so.

2. Let Your Employees Know You Are Sick

You don’t need to keep your illness to yourself. If you aren’t capable of running the business like you used to, let your staff know exactly what the problem is and why you might not be at work for a certain period of time.

This greatly reduces the possibility of gossips flying around as regards why you are absent which might reduce productivity and affect workflow. You could tax your staff to step up in your absence, motivate them by promising them a small bonus at the end of the month provided the business is running smoothly in your absence.

3. Motivate Your Staff

The absence of one member of a football team may cause his teammates to work twice as hard to fill up the vacuum. This also applies to any firm where a staff member is not available due to an illness, someone has to work extra hard to fill up your space.

Therefore, as the manager of your firm, your staff have to compromise a lot to keep the business running while you are absent. They should be rewarded adequately for this. You can do this by hosting a small firm picnic or dinner where your employees can bring their families along.

This will also help to foster better office relationships and familiarity amongst your staff members. According to research, a team that has familiar members play and work well together. You need to treat your firm like a community, a neighbourly community.

4. Appoint A Temporary Head

Even though you might still want to be making the big decisions and calling the shots on some deals, you will need a temporary head to help organize things, especially if your physical office has a fairly large staff.

The last thing you want is friction in your office while you are not on seat. However, you must be very critical on this appointment, you must appoint someone who is diligent, hardworking and yet flexible enough to make big, great decisions on deals in your absence.

In addition, this person should have at least a 70% approval rating from your other staff members. Your employees are most likely to challenge orders from someone they do not like, especially if he is only a temporary head and cannot carry out any disciplinary measure.

This is a very dicey decision and you could upset some nerves by choosing someone and leaving out other people. Therefore, take your time to find out who is the most suitable for the job in character, diligence and most importantly rank.

Read: What makes a good partnership in business. Find out

5. Inform Your Clients/Supplier

You must let your major clients know that you are not available because you are sick. You must also let them know who you put in charge of firm operations, while you get better and heal.

This is to avoid any misunderstanding when your clients visit your office to meet a new person claiming to be in charge. It can also help you to gain the sympathy of your clients if a particular job was not done properly during your absence. They will understand it’s because you were temporarily down.

If you have suppliers, it is also important to give them a heads up on how the business will be operated in your absence. If you feel like you do not need any more supplies until you feel better, let them know. Tell them exactly when they can start bringing in supplies.

It is also important that you tell your temporary head to take account of current inventory before suppliers can start supplying again, this is to avoid any form of misunderstanding.

6. Take Only Important Calls

I know you might be tempted to take all the calls, however, once you have successfully chosen a temporary head of operations, you must lay back and allow him/her handle the new responsibility.

It is not nice to give someone a position and yet still keep doing the work. Redirect all business calls to his/her desk once you are sure the individual can handle his new task. Ignore that voice that tells you to manage to pick calls because you will not only be unconvincing, but you will also not give your best to your clients. This could seriously affect your quality of service.

You can only take calls of utmost importance or cases of emergencies, maybe a major deal that needs your signature. Simply ask for the documents to be brought to your home for your convenience.

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7. Adjust Your Schedule

Now that you aren’t capable of taking a lot of calls, read emails and attend meetings, adjust your schedule. This will help to reduce the pressure and workload to an extent.

The last thing you want to experience is extra stress while being sick. You must help your body to bounce back by reducing its workload. If you normally have staff meetings by, you could reschedule it to

Since you won’t be able to be there in person, you could make a phone or video call. You can still achieve a lot from the comfort of your home and if it isn’t a short term sickness, you’ll have to delegate a lot of things.

8. Organize An Emergency Plan

It is important that I advise you to do nothing official if the sickness is really bad. Sometimes, all your body need is a break and since it operates like a machine, it is vulnerable to breakdown due to stress. Do not fret about how the company will survive without your availability.

However, every industry is a rollercoaster and anything unexpected could happen while you are homesick for a while. Sometimes, the person you appointed to take charge of things might not be so experienced to make good decisions.

Hence, you will have to set up an emergency plan for your health in case of such situations. Make sure you have some savings for health emergencies. You could take a flight to a reliable hospital ASAP so that you can get back on your feet.

9. Scrutinize Every Document

There have been cases of company owners signing off their company by accident due to the actions of a dubious temporary head or a relative while they were sick.  The heart of man is evil, and even your most trusted staff member might actually plan to take what belongs to you. This negligence and deliberate theft could ruin your business in one day.

Therefore in order to be on the safe side, scrutinize every single document brought to you word for word no matter who brings you the document. If you are not strong enough to read, simply tell them to tuck the document away until you are better no matter what it is.

You don’t want to take such risks because you could file a lawsuit and it could take years before the court comes to a final decision which might not be in your favour. Therefore, to avoid such a heartbreaking process, scrutinize every document brought to your table or simply put them aside until you are strong enough.

10. Set Up A Catch-Up Plan

Since it is obvious that you might not be able to work for some time, you have to set up a catch-up plan or strategy to help you return to work after you heal. If you have been away from work for a long time, you can be sure that a lot would have changed and you must catch up quickly.

To foster this process, once you notice some improvements in your health, ask for a detailed report on the company transactions since you were away. You do not want to start all over again to understand what is really happening around. It is your desire to be informed as soon as you walk into your office.

Once you are strong enough, invite your temporary head of operations to fill you in on supplies, client satisfaction and contracts that might need your signature. You can do this a week before you officially resume your position as the head of the company again.

Read: How to create and build a strong brand image and identity

11. Commence Work Gradually

Now that you feel better, it is important to take your time while you ease into your normal schedule. I know that you might be eager to resume work and anxious to see how your employees have managed without you.

You might begin to feel uneasy about your staff getting used to your absence. However, the body can be deceptive. You need to consult a good physician to determine if you are really fit to resume work again.

Do not, I repeat, do not go back to work except a doctor says you are capable. In addition, you do not want to slump while at work or start feeling sick again when your employees have just started adjusting to your schedules again.

12. Protect your health

How To Manage A Business When You're sick
How To Manage A Business When You’re Sick

The best way to protect your business from illness is to not get ill in the first place. Some health problems are inevitable, but others are the result of lifestyle choices.

First, you should make sure that your work isn’t damaging your health. A clean work environment could stop you from catching bugs. Meanwhile, using protective equipment and prioritising ergonomics could prevent Repetitive Stress/Strain Injuries (RSIs).

Work-related stress is also worth guarding against – as well as bringing down your immune system. Stress from work could be contributing to health problems of its own such as heart disease and hypertension. Make sure that you’re giving yourself breaks from work and that you’re not taking on more work than you can handle.

Other healthy lifestyle choices such as regularly exercising, keeping up a healthy diet and getting enough sleep could help you to avoid developing a debilitating illness.

13. Keep outgoing payments going by insuring yourself

It’s also possible to insure yourself against the costs of illness. If you’re unable to keep your business running and make an income, this could grant you the compensation to still cover the cost of bills and debts.

Income protection insurance is a common way of funding oneself when self-employed and sick. Generally, you’re only entitled to half your regular income, but this is still better than nothing.

Income protection insurance rates are affected by various factors. This may include the state of your health, your income, your credit score and the health risks involved in your job. By shopping around, you can find the cheapest rates and most comprehensive cover.

There are also more specific types of protection available such as this pharmacy protection, which helps to continue paying debts if you’re a pharmacy owner that is seriously ill. Lenders may also be able to offer loan protection at an extra cost. This could be something to consider next time you take out a business loan. Although it will mean paying more on top of your regular repayments.

14. Set up extra passive income streams

How To Manage A Business When You're sick
How To Manage A Business When You’re Sick

Passive income streams are forms of income that may involve an initial investment but don’t require much hands-on work afterwards. As a result, they can enable you to make money even if you’re ill.

A buy-to-let property is a popular passive income stream that many employers will use as a backup form of income. By buying a property and renting it out to tenants, you can receive regular rent to cover any mortgage and make a profit on top.

You could even buy a property using business funds as a limited company. This could provide a way to make extra company income and cover outgoing business costs. Of course, this may not be wholly passive as a landlord is sometimes required to step in and make repairs.  You could also answer tenant queries, however, these are tasks that someone else could step in and take over.

Another option could be peer-to-peer lending. This involves lending money to someone as a loan. Then you get paid back in instalments with interest attached. This is a truly passive income as you don’t have to lift a finger. Especially if you go through an established peer-to-peer lending site that will chase up any late payments for you.

You could also invest in stocks or assets. You can sell these for a profit in the event that you fall ill. This gives you some cash to live off and pay the necessary bills. However, you will need to be physically/mentally able to handle the sales process.


If you have capable staff, apply these tips provided. You can be sure that your business will be safe. 

However, you must take care of your body to avoid this type of occurrences. You need to exercise regularly to keep your body active and fit to perform the necessary tasks per day. You can try to register at a gym where you can exercise every Saturday.

If you prefer to exercise at your house, then you need to do some basic cardiovascular exercises. This will help you to reduce any risk of arthritis, muscle pains or high blood pressure. You must take proper care of your body to perform the tasks it needs to do.

So, just sit back, follow these tips and things should work out smoothly. Also, remember to reward your employees for a job well done upon resumption. This will encourage them to do better should such an event happen again.

It is a man who is alive that can look for money. You must concentrate on getting better rather than getting back to work quickly. These tips will help you to achieve that. Just coordinate your staff to work as effectively as possible when you aren’t around.


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Post Author: Chibuike Nwogbo

Nwogbo Chibuike is a student of Electronics and Computer engineering at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka. He started writing at the age of 10 by learning new things and writing about what he has learnt. Specifically, he likes the feeling of creating another world through writing. He is also a dedicated Christian.

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