10 Tips for Starting a Business While Living with a Chronic Illness
 Develop your passion into a job with joy. What do you love to do? What inspires you? Keep your work time simple and energized by spending that time doing what moves you and makes your heart sing. Working while living with a chronic illness can be difficult and draining so having a job with joy to go to everyday can not only bring in an income but also help to alleviate the stress and struggle.
 Work because you WANT TO or it may just make you sicker. (If you have to work, it honestly may be easier to just get a job and not dedicate yourself physically and mentally to the success of a company) If you have something that you truly love doing and want to work then finding a way to modify that passion to allow for your chronic illnesses needs can be quite successful.
 Accept and welcome that your business plan and structure may look quite different from someone who does not have a chronic illness. The coolest thing about starting your own business is that it is YOURS! On your terms, timing and style. This means you can flip your chronic illness to a strength. Use it to help define exactly what you want and incorporate that into your work style just like you do your lifestyle!
 Build your illnesses limits into your business plan and daily working style. If you need to take naps, schedule shorter work sessions, if you need to be close to a bathroom, set up your office from home and no longer worry about being away from the loo. Structure your work day to allow easy access to medications, comfortable chairs, whatever you need.
 Allow for busier periods by not overdoing or scheduling too much. If you have a wedding or holiday coming up, schedule back on your work agenda and vice versa…if a busy push will be coming up within your business, set aside free time for rest and rejuvenation, not a bunch of activities with family and friends leaving you drained. Finding a good balance is important.
 Develop a positive cheering squad. Find those that understand you and your illness and support your dreams. Share with these individuals about your business successes and invite them to support and encourage you. Ask your squad for help, most people love to be asked to give a hand or advice.
 Build relationships with trusted sources and create alliances with like minded individuals whom you feel comfortable and confident sharing your challenges. It is often said friends are family you choose and I believe you should choose wisely. The same can be said for colleagues and businesses that work with you. Pick the ones you respect and practice values in alignment with yours. This increases the joy factor and reduces stress.
 Remind yourself that chronic illness or not you are still running a business and making decisions and taking action requires business knowledge and skills. You can certainly learn and educate yourself in this area if you are new to being a business owner or solopreneur. Just ensure you make solid business choices, don’t hire friends and family just because they understand your illness or challenges but don’t have the proper skills or knowledge to do their jobs well.
 Become clear and comfortable with your chronic illness. Develop a way to explain to others what your illness is without it being cumbersome or embarrassing for you or them. There are ways to stay honest and professional. It may never come up, but being prepared helps to reduce stress and awkward moments.
 Don’t make your chronic illness your “personal brand” unless you are selling a solution to that type of illness. I have seen business websites that spent more time talking about the person’s illness on different pages than on what their product or service was and the two were not related. Coming across as “sick” can put people off. It may also cause them to think you might be unable to get the job done. Focus on your strengths and successes. In fact there may be no need to even share you have a chronic illness. If it isn’t relevant and not important to your target market then let it remain private.
Bonus tip: Incorporate various forms of stress reducers throughout your day to ensure your body and mind stay focused and strong. (Drink lots of water, take breaks, do 10 minute yoga spurts, listen to calming music, practice stand-stretch-smile)
Julia Ferguson Andriessen is a life and business coach who has worked with multiple chronic illnesses for over 20 years and still found joy in her life. You can find out more about her and her work at www.juliaferguson.com or call her at 1.714.633.3601 to set up a complimentary 30 minute session to explore how working with her can help you set your dreams in motion. Julia works with clients via telephone and email globally.