What do you do when illness strikes, you’re self employed, you work by yourself, AND your business is in food!  Panic!!! Is probably one of the first feelings that springs to mind followed by “ahh it will be a catastrophe!”  But fear not I have written this blog to help you put a simple plan in place so that you can avoid disaster for your cake business.

Common colds, chest infections, bugs, food poisoning or worse broken bones and serious illness can strike out of nowhere.

This may not be the happiest of topics but as a self employed cake business owner it is really important for you to think about it. You work in food, you need to be free from infection and injuries so that you can create wonderful bespoke masterpieces.

Now you maybe one of the those people thinking, I never get ill or injurer myself. Well if you do, that is fantastic and I generally hope it continues that way 😀 But let’s be realistic, it is important  to have a plan in place, as you never know what is round the corner.

This is a very real scenario and actually happened to me the other week. Prior to this I realised I hadn’t had a cold or anything like that for yonks. But in mid May I caught a yucky bug and was left in bed for 4 solid days.  Fortunately, I didn’t have any cake orders until the following week but I still had other aspects of both my businesses to run. I knew I could check in every so often with the admin/email/social media side of things while I was recovering in bed – though all I wanted to do was sleep. But the actual cake making, well I knew I had to be completely free from infection before I got my bake on.

Luckily, five years ago I had created my own “Emergency Injury and Illness Plan”.  So I whipped it out and was poised to go in incase I didn’t make a full recovery – I also have ME (or Myalgic Encephalopathy if you want to get fancy) so little bugs like this can take me longer to get over. However, with the help of a lovely concoction of meds I was free from infection by the time it came to creating the cake order. Happy Days!

But it got me thinking about you guys and my concern started to build. Have you got an emergency illness plan in place for your business? If you don’t then now is the time to create one (I suggest writing this when you are feeling lovely and healthy).

4 Top Tips to Help You Create Your Own Emergency Injury and Illness Plan

• Train close friends or family members

Most of us cake makers work by ourselves which can be a little bit of a problem when we get sick or injured and are unable to work.  To help combat this ask close friends or family members (who can bake or have a keen interest in cakes) if they can be part of your plan. Train them in elements such as baking, easy sugarcraft, dirty icing, delivery, set up, etc. Set up a training day once a quarter or once every six months.  This strategy is great if you have a common cold or a short illness and need a little help so you can recover quicker.

• Build a network

Befriend a few local cake makers and create a network that you can happily subcontract work to incase of emergency illnesses or injuries. Make sure they are people you trust and are around the same skill level as you. Also ensure that you put your agreement in writing and remember to cover aspects such as financial details and who owns the client.

• Create a business handbook

In the case of a long term illness or injuries a business handbook is a life saver. It the operating manual for your business and you start creating it as soon as you start your business.  It can include details of your business policies and procedures, as well as recipes, decoration methods, and more. I have one for both my businesses and they explain all the ins or outs of how my businesses operate. So that in the event of anything untoward I can instruct someone to read it and they can instantly take over the running of my businesses.

• Added Extra

You may also want to consider personal insurances. There are a number of different types of insurances you can take out incase you can’t work due to illness or injury including, Income Protection, Critical Illness Cover, Life Insurance or Private Medical Insurance.  Now, I am not an insurance expert so that is all the information I am going to give but this website, Money Advice Service, is fabulous at explaining the four types of personal insurances available in more detail.

Hopefully you will never have to use the ‘Emergency Injury and Illness” plan you create but it is important to have it in place as you don’t want your business to run into the ground after you have worked so hard to create it in the first place. And one last tip if you do fall ill or get injured remember to be honest with your clients and explain the situation and what impact it could have for them.

Let me know in the comments box below if you have a plan in place or will be writing one straight away after reading this.

Happy baking!

P.S. For guidance on what to do while suffering from certain infections that may contaminate food click to visit the Food Standards Agency and download their free PDF.

Pia Cato

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