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6 Tips for Running a Craft Business with a Chronic Illness

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People start craft businesses for all types of reasons, including not be able to work in a traditional job setting or role due to a chronic illness. Unfortunately, chronic illnesses are more common than not – but often aren’t talked about due to stigmas. Today, let’s talk about them. 

There are many laws in place that protect those with chronic illnesses and disabilities when you work for someone else. Unfortunately, those laws don’t matter when you are your own boss. I recently had a chance to talk to a nurse whom I am good friends with and she helped me put together the tips below. For each tip she shared with me, I added real life examples related to craft businesses.

6 Tips for Running a Craft Business with a Chronic Illness

  • Put yourself first. Your business should come second to your health. Always. While it may be tough, especially if you need the money – take time to recharge. In fact, schedule time in your daily routine to recharge yourself. This could be a nap, some yoga, some tv time, reading – whatever recharges your personal ‘batteries’.
  • Be honest and realistic with yourself. Running a craft business by yourself can be tough without a chronic illness. With a chronic illness, it is even more important to be realistic with your goals and time.
    • Create a flexible schedule. Keep in mind when creating your schedule that it isn’t set in stone. Your schedule can change due to doctor’s appointments or days when you cannot work. Accept this, it’s okay. 
    • Make your goals realistic and attainable. Saying that you’ll make and sell 500 widgets by the end of the month isn’t practical – even without a chronic illness. Making a goal of working on your business for 5 hours this week or month is an attainable goal. Due to the unpredictable nature of chronic illnesses, setting long term goals is often more productive than setting short term goals.
  • Think outside the box.
    • For example: If you can’t stand over a heat press pressing shirts, consider using a print on demand service or screen printer. In this case, you’d create the designs and outsource the printing. 
    • For example: Consider running a business that isn’t tied to fulfilling orders on your customer’s schedule. If you opened an Etsy shop selling SVG cut files, you upload them and customers purchase and download them.
    • For example: Stock premade, ready to ship products. It’s no secret that ready to ship products take less time and effort than custom orders. I’ve talked about this here.
    • I’ve got a great list of ways to be involved with a craft business that doesn’t involve selling directly to customers. Read it here.
  • Be open about it to customers, but don’t overshare. Customers are understanding. If you are comfortable talking a little bit about your chronic illness, go for it. If not, then don’t. 
    • For example: Your About Me page could provide insight on why you started a business and the challenges you face. Learn more about creating awesome About Me pages in this post.
    • Be cautious to not let your chronic illness overshadow your business. People don’t need to know every detail of every doctor’s appointment, struggle you encounter, or challenge you face.
  • Ask for help. Have a trusted friend that can commit some time to help you each week in your business? Maybe someone that isn’t took crafty, but would like to learn? Teach them your ‘tricks of the trade’ as you go. 
    • Realize that someone’s time is valuable. Consider splitting some of the income or paying them for their help.
  • Join communities for your specific chronic illness. Lean on them and learn from them.
    • The internet has helped us get more connected than ever. This means that there is likely a support group or foundation or organization for your specific illness or diagnosis. Join it and ask questions and get involved. Accept advice from people who are facing the same challenges.

Whatever your chronic physical or mental illness may be – know that it doesn’t define you. While some days may be more challenging than others, keep at it.

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