2017 started off with the potential to be a great year. I decided to ring in the new year with a vacation to the Dominican Republic.  That one week of sun and relaxation turned into 5 weeks of being sick, very sick.  I had everything from a stomach bug, to a cold which turned into the flu, which then migrated into a severe bacterial throat and chest infection.  Now I am dealing with the ‘real costs’ of being sick for over a month as a small business owner.

Financial Costs of Being Sick

It is very expensive to get sick these days.  A simple trip to the pharmacy or drug store to buy cold and flu pills, cough syrup, Kleenex, ginger ale, soup, cough candies, tea, vitamins, Vicks, nose spray, Advil or Tylenol can leave your wallet about $60.00 lighter.  If you do that a couple of times over the course of a few weeks, your bad cold/flu has now cost you around $200.00, and that does not include the price of any antibiotics.  Most small business owners do not have any type of drug plan or medical coverage, so being sick can get extremely expensive.

Customer Loss to your Business

If your business is a sole proprietorship and you get sick, there is no one to run your business for you.  While you are home in bed with a fever and coughing uncontrollably, your clients are wondering where you are.  And, while you have every intention to send out notes to your clients and tell them, in reality you barely have the energy to roll over.  If you are sick for more than a week, this can have a great impact on your business as your clients will assume you have other things to do than stay in touch with them.  Facebook and LinkedIn need a “I’m sick” button that you can add to your business page that you can try and click between coughing spasms.

Real Costs of Being Sick

Suffering from a severe cold also come with other very real costs – the most important one is time.  Every day that you are sick you get more behind on answering emails, completing projects, staying engaged on social media, selling your product or service and marketing yourself to the business community.  Time is the one thing that is almost impossible to get back after being sick.  For a sole entrepreneur, having someone who can step in when you can’t is something you might want to arrange, but realistically, you just need to pick up the pieces and start again once you are on the mend.

Planning for the inevitable

Unfortunately, getting sick is inevitable and it’s a little more bearable if you put some simple strategies into place.  There are some inexpensive drug coverage options for small business owners like Green Shield, Flex Care and Blue Cross.

The Ontario Government also has the Trillium Drug Care Plan.  All Ontarians who have valid Ontario Health Insurance (OHIP) and are a resident of Ontario can register in the TDP so long as they comply with requirements set out in the regulations under the Ontario Drug Benefit Act (ODBA), have private insurance which does not cover 100% of prescription drug costs and are not eligible for drug coverage as another category of recipient under the ODB program.  There is a small deductible for each use and it covers approximately 3800 types of drugs.

Saving a little money each month into a “rainy-day or sick day fund” is smart planning.  If you are sick for more than a week, chances are you are not going to bring in the same income as you normally do.  By saving money during your healthy months, you will have a little buffer to get you through the times that all you can do is sleep and take your Buckley’s.