Be the Boss Over Cancer

My finance was just diagnosed with lung cancer. He has a small business with 2 employee's. It is a very technical business, and he is the technical brains behind the operation. When he is not at work, no progress happens on customer orders. We don't even know the treatment plan yet, but we have customer's who want committments for orders and projects. (Normal course of the business.) What do we tell the customer's so that we don't lose them forever? Reality is that there will be a period of time when we are unable to produce any work. We would like the business to be a survivor too. Additional question. Do we layoff the employee's during the treatment?


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  • Rosalind Joffe

    Rosalind Joffe on Apr 2, 2010

    Career Coach Comment:

    Dear Nancy, You face a difficult time ahead and it sounds as if you have a lot on your plate to keep the business going. It also sounds as if you both work in this business and it is your means of support.

    This is a tricky situation for just the reason you've named - he's the only one who can do the work. You're smart to be thinking about this and getting input.

    You'll know a lot more once you get the treatment plan but even with that, I expect the unexpected moments will happen. Here are some things I you might think about now:

    1. If you keep it running, are there operations you can do differently? Can you hire help for your husband or pace the work differently?

    2. If you choose not to do this and "suspend", you have two options - tell the reason or not. You might think about how you let them know - phone, email, -- and what you'd say before doing this. Depending on your relationship with your customers, you might give them a time frame and think about how you can stay in touch or continue to give them some service.

    3.If you choose #2, it probably makes sense to lay off your employees but is that just a short term solution and might the business suffer when you resume?

    It seems as if your decisions will depend on your finances, the nature of your business and relationships with your clients and the risks you want to take.

    I hope this helps.

    Warmly, Rosalind

  • Nancy Y.

    Nancy Y. on Apr 6, 2010

    Thanks for the input. After a lot of discussion, and reading the other posts, we have decided to keep our health issues close to the vest. We like the wording of having a "conflict" and being unable to commit to a job during the timeline requested.

    We will not take on new bigger jobs unless we have a back-up (sub-contractor) for completing the work. We are investigating someone to run the operation, and be the technical manager and communicator with my Finance while he is unable to work. We hope my Finance can provide technical direction for repairs and projects from home, even when not feeling well. Our hope is that on good days he can go into the shop/office. But we are planning for more on the worst case scenario. Customers will always be happy with better than promised service.


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