During a recent interview with Ray White on the Money Show on Radio 702, we discussed the challenges that entrepreneurs face and how to adequately prepare for them. In December 2017, I stepped out of the corporate world to join my husband and re-launch our business. Just a month later, during a regular mammogram, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

What followed was a series of decisions, surgical procedures, chemotherapy, treatments and a complete disruption of our lives and our business. Having worked with entrepreneurs for many years and having stepped out of corporate world to be an entrepreneur twice within my career, I wanted to share some practical insights on how to prepare for unexpected challenges and share some of my journey.

If you fall ill or have to take care of your loved ones or deal with unexpected personal challenges follow some of these basic principals to ensure sustainability of your business.

Always give yourself a financial run way

Before embarking on an entrepreneurial journey, ensure you have enough funds to cover your existing expenses for at least 6 to 9 months. This helps in a few ways. Firstly if you are establishing a new venture these funds will allow you to focus on the growth of your business without the stress of trying to sign on clients immediately. Also remember that many clients will not pay up front for your services, and depending on the clients payment processes, your payment can be delayed by up to 90 days from date of invoice.

Identify Associates that can Deliver on your behalf

If you are a SoloPreneur (the only one in your business) or if you have a unique technical skill that your business is dependent on, identify associates outside your business that can be brought in as and when needed. Negotiate these services and payment structures before you actually need them and create a database of possible associates that you can draw on. Remember that you may need a few associates to cover the spectrum of your skill set, include these contingency plans in all of your proposals to ensure that there is no breech of contract should you need to replace yourself on a project with an associate.

Avoid Unnecessary Expenses

Its quite tempting when launching a new business to make your mark and create visibility, although this is important be cautious about spending too much of your capital. These expenses could include signing of long term lease contracts with a 3 month up front payment towards rental of office space and could also have lock in and penalty clauses, costing you additional funds should you wish to get out of the contract earlier.

Rather opt for a home office space if you are able to or alternatively look into co-working spaces that offer great services for the start up business and they have flexible desk options and month to month contracts if needed. We are situated at the OPEN in Sandton. The facility is professionally managed, open 24 hours, has adequate parking and is ideally located close to public transport and the Gautrain. In addition they have a track record of managing spaces and have locations across the country, which makes your presence in other locations affordable.

Other expenses to avoid is permanently employing staff without first getting paying clients for your offering. Your corporate job may have afforded you with the luxuries of a receptionist and a personal assistant, as well as a financial controller and driver, but as an entrepreneur you will need to fulfill as many of these roles as possible until your business can pay for these services without undue pressure on its financials.

Ensure you have Adequate Financial Protection

Insurance is often thought of as a grudge purchase. However as an entrepreneur you need even more protection as you do not have the added security and benefits as a corporate employee. Ensure you have adequate medical cover that will cover yours and your loved ones medical expenses and look into oncology benefits before you actually need it. In addition investigate and ensure you have policies that will protect your income should you fall ill, or pay you a lump sum as a living benefit or dread disease cover. Discuss these options with your financial adviser, if you do not have a financial adviser speak to family and friends and ask for details of their financial planners that are trusted or search company websites that offer these services. Remember to this this before you actually need it, it is almost impossible to get cover once you have fallen ill.

Be Present

Being present is absolutely critical to stay relevant. Although you may be facing an unavoidable challenge you will have to get back to your business in the future. Its important for your clients to feel and experience your presence. Although I have not been able to make public appearances and give talks during this year, I have still contributed in the form of articles to publications, I have continued with my social media presence and I have taken a few meetings and interviews when I was able to.

But being present also means being available to your loved ones and to yourself. Give yourself the time to heal and deal with your challenge.

YOU ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT PERSON YOU KNOW!

Do not take life for granted. Your life is precious. Take time for your health. Have your regular check ups and examinations. Breast Cancer is not a death sentence. Have regular mammograms and get your loved ones to do the same. Do not become a statistic. Of all the emotions I have felt this past year, regret is not one of them, don’t let it be one of yours!

About the author:
Jayshree Naidoo is a thought leader in the space of innovation and entrepreneurship. She has led the innovation and entrepreneurship functions of large corporates in South Africa. Her last corporate role was the Head of the Standard Bank Incubator. She is currently an entrepreneur consults in the space of Innovation, Incubation and Entrpreneurship. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram on @jayshnaidoo or www.linkedin.com/in/jayshreenaidoo

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