Small business owners can ditch plans and still smile

Milton quote offers insight into small business owner mindset. Visit for tips on enjoying the solvent small business you create.

Unexpected life circumstances can derail our carefully crafted small business plans. Sometimes it’s best to simply deal with the urgent and not beat yourself up for getting off track on the important. Rarely are important items so urgent that they become lost opportunities if you don’t act immediately.

Admittedly, I’m a list maker and a planner. Often this involves exacting detail without a lot of flexibility to handle unexpected interruptions. In fact, I get frustrated when I can’t move forward as planned because I’m waiting on other people. It used to be (I’m learning) I’d waste so much time fretting over missed appointments or deadlines by others, I’d lose hours and sometimes days of productivity before I was able to regroup to focus on alternate activities.

On November 30th, I closed on a new (OK, old, but new to me) home. Its “as is” sale condition had me prepared with set-aside funds to address what I saw as issues along with additional reserves for some of the stuff I didn’t catch. What I failed to consider was how much time it would take to handle plans gone awry.

I arrived with all I could stuff in my little car (mostly office equipment). The only clothes I brought were laundry. My plan was to spend a few days in Roanoke handling the closing and starting the cleaning process (lots to be done there) then to head back to Connecticut to cover a new hire on vacation and meet the moving van.

I was excited to avoid the laundromat for the first time since selling my farm in New York. Both the washer and dryer failed on my first night. Bought a new pair that night because I wasn’t going to let one of my most anticipated (silly, I know) initial home owner activities go unfulfilled (plus, I had no clean clothes).

Heavy rains had water flowing under the house to such an extent I could smell mildew in the downstairs bedroom.

The moving van showed up just before I was scheduled to head out of state for Christmas (still not completely unpacked).

The refrigerator failed while I was away. Two week after ordering, the new one arrived. I found new creative cooking genius during that span (and learned you can freeze eggs, milk {sort of} and cheese).

Pipes froze in the office. A wall-mount spigot planted in the ground and piercing the line running from the house to the office burst. We discovered the line is buried only three inches underground. We also realized there is no shut off for water to the house (shared well).

Plumber’s reaction to the DIY Dumb – priceless. Cost for the partial fixes – ouch.

Window and door replacement is scheduled for February. While I’m not loving the current winter breezes coming through, not being able to open any existing windows will bug me more once warmth comes.

During Jonas, the HVAC unit in the office failed. Plumbing froze again (of course). I trudged through the storm removing most of the electronic equipment I had just set up. The contractor came out today and offered “our most economical solution” at $4K. Nope. I might have to rethink my office location plans – or take a chance on a similar unit install by the good ole boys I found in Lynchburg who are doing some handyman work here.

Milton quote offers insight into small business owner mindset. Visit for tips on enjoying the solvent small business you create.On the plus side, the land is great. I managed to dig three 30-foot beds and plant almost six pounds of garlic (that’s a lot) before the ground froze. Getting dirt under my fingernails and back to digging on my own land felt great.

Funny, I haven’t stressing out over this. The experience provides some valuable lessons for small business owners seeking long-term solvency.

Homeowner applications to small business fortitude

Dealing with these unanticipated home urgencies reminded me a lot about what’s important in running a small business.

  • Expect the unexpected
  • Find great vendors to help you solve problems (I was really lucky to find a talented, understanding and honest dual-licensed plumber/electrician as the first to respond when water started spewing from pipes in the office).
  • If you focus on the problems it’s harder to reach solutions
  • Think long-term even with immediate urgent matters
  • Find small things to do that make you smile when crisis is in the mix
  • Lean on friends, neighbors and associates for help
  • Tackle issues one at a time
  • Give yourself some credit for accomplishments
  • Rejoice in the knowledge a problem solved right won’t likely resurface soon
  • Don’t let other people or unexpected circumstances ruin your day
  • Feel confident in your ability to summon the resources necessary for a fix and you will
  • If urgent matters require immediate attention, give yourself a break from your schedule to deal

When you’re a small business owner, it’s easy to let personal issues take precedence. That’s actually a good thing – because you can. Appreciate the flexibility to handle life as it’s thrown at you. Clients will be more understanding than you imagine if you’re forthright. You can give them extra attention and added (unbilled) hours as thanks for their patience later on. That’s what they’ll remember. Some jobs can’t wait. You can find time to schedule those in. Most jobs can. Isn’t it great being a small business owner?

6 responses to “Small business owners can ditch plans and still smile”

  1. Oh my, my, my, Nanette. Welcome to my life.
    I admire you so very much on your ability to not only deal with all of this but to turn it into an insightful and inspiring post. I’m off to share.
    Thank you for the shoutout – I think I’ll call on you for a guest post every now and then.
    I do hope things settle down on the home front.

    • Yes, Kelly I couldn’t helping thinking some of your karma had rubbed off on me ;-). I’m sure you would have handled this post with a lot more flair, but it did seem more appropriate on Just TypiKel than it did here :-). I admire you more. Your challenges have been more daunting. Happy to guest post any time.

    • Funny thing is, Lulu, I would haven’t gotten a lot more heated over much less not too long ago. Fortunately, I’m resourceful and creative enough to seem to always land on my feet. The point was – life brings wrinkles – if you can’t roll with them, it seems a lot tougher than it has to be. This is really important thing to realize as a small business owner.

    • Not a start up, a relocation. But, admittedly, it’s morphing into something more like a new venture with the new culture, Scott. Thanks for stopping in and commenting.