Been out of the office a bit lately, getting a new left knee.  (See it above, side and front views — doesn’t it look bionic?)  Normally this would just be one of those things in life that you have to take care of, but when you are in business for yourself, taking time off for things like this takes on new meaning.  There is no “sick time” when you work for yourself, no vacation time you can tap.  There is just a hole in your calendar where you could be billing if you weren’t in so much pain! 

Thus, one of the biggest lessons in  running your own consulting business — saving money well, and having a backup plan!  I have been anticipating this knee replacement since last summer when I decided to do it.  I carefully orchestrated my surgery with my clients so that I was finishing up with several key projects before I went under the knife (or in reality, the saw!)   I also squirreled away money for several months of living in case business was slow when I returned.  

When my daughter was young  and my parents were ill, I had agreements with several other trusted consultants that I could call them at the last minute to sub for me.  Several times I even paid them to sit around and wait for my call if I was expecting something to happen but did now know exactly when.  I always informed my clients about the possibilities in those instances and got their agreement in advance.  Only once did I actually have to execute my back-up plans — and because we were all so well prepared,  it went very smoothly.  The client was still happy, my colleague got some extra work, and I was able to breathe easy knowing they were well-served. 

So my question for all of you is — who are your “go-to” people if an emergency would strike?  If you can’t answer that question quickly, start thinking about your own back-up plan.  After all, life doesn’t intrude — its just life! 

Cathy Perme is the co-owner of Perme & Peterson Associates, LLC.

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Catherine Perme

Fizz! How to Succeed as an Independent Consultant author Cathy Perme also wrote Confucius in My Cubicle: Practical Wisdom for the Leader in All of Us, released by Wisdom Editions.