An Online Business Owner’s Guide to Staying Afloat When Sick or Injured

Nobody ever plans to become sick or seriously injured. When you’re healthy, it’s hard to imagine that anything will ever hold you back. However, the reality is that you’re more likely to suffer a debilitating injury or illness that takes you out for an extended period of time than you are to die before the age of 65.

The data suggests that more than 1 in 4 of today’s 20-year-olds will become disabled at some point before retirement. In other words, you can’t count on being healthy forever – especially if you’re an online business owner. And having a plan in place for keeping your business afloat while you’re unable to work is critically important.

According to a 2016 Bridge the Gap report on small and medium enterprises (SME’s), very few businesses can remain profitable enough to pay expenses when a business owner is unable to work. The data shows that 54 percent of SME’s would have to close their doors within two months, while just 22 percent of companies would last longer than a year.

Solo entrepreneurs, as you may guess, were even more likely to face issues. The data reveals that 58 percent of these business owners have insufficient insurance to last even a week, while 94 percent would fail to make it to the six-month mark.

5 Tips for Keeping Your Online Business Going

As an online business owner, you’re in a unique situation. You most likely work from home – or at least have the flexibility to do so – and don’t always have as much overhead as other business owners do. But you also don’t have as many of the traditional protections in place that employees of standard companies may.

You never want to dwell on negative situations, but planning ahead will keep you from hitting a sudden stopping point. Here are a few tips to think about: 

  1. Consider a Disability Insurance Policy

Consider getting a disability insurance policy before you even have the chance to become sick or injured. These insurance policies – which come in both short-term and long-term plans – are usually pretty inexpensive and will pay out roughly 50 to 70 percent of your salary for a predetermined period of time (if you’re unable to continue performing the work you normally perform). 

  1. Inquire About SSDI

As soon as you become incapacitated, you should look into whether or not you qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). As an online business owner, you’re most likely a 1099 contractor. This means a portion of your quarterly estimated taxes goes towards SSDI each year. However, because of the amount of SSDI fraud that occurs, it’s common to get turned down. You might find it helpful to team up with a social security disability lawyer to ensure your situation is handled properly.

  1. Put Someone in Charge

Just because you can’t work doesn’t mean your online business can’t still run. One of the first things you should do is put a trusted employee in charge. If you don’t have any employees working for you, try to find a spouse, sibling, close friend, or business colleague who can step in and handle some of the basic necessities in your absence.

  1. Automate as Much as Possible

Automation is going to be your friend during your sickness or injury. Find as many automated tools, solutions, and plugins as you possibly can. You may even consider hiring a virtual assistant to handle basic tasks. At the very least, this will prevent administrative responsibilities from piling up in your absence.

  1. Focus on Getting Better

At the end of the day, the primary goal is for you to get better. While you need to take proactive steps to keep the business running, be sure to focus on your own health needs as well. The sooner you recover, the faster you can get back to work.

Do You Have a Plan?

It’s not enough to be aware of the risks you face. You also need to come up with a plan for how you’ll respond in the unfortunate instance that you become sick or injured and have to step away from your online business for a period of time.

Hopefully the tips in this article have given you some tangible pointers on how to proceed.