How to build a sustainable business from the hard times out

As some of you know, I was out of town last week for a funeral. My husband's grandpa died. And it was hard, beautiful, and…exhausting. When we got back into town, I couldn't think clearly enough to work.

Funerals, deaths, and heck, even the holiday season is stressful enough without also having to think about your business, and your bills.

I'm blessed that I was prepared: the Holiday Sanity Kits continued to sell, the payment plans on the Starship came in on time, new people found my site and signed up for emails and got their How to Explore lessons, my bills got paid – because it's all automated and mobile-ready. The Starship, which can't be automated (the live chats, weekly emails, forum answers all require my time and attention), still sailed on – because I have systems for communicating, organizing, and responding on the go.

As I came back to work yesterday to deal with my swelling inbox, I thought about all that had happened in my business without me even looking at it. The people who got to know me because of what I've created here. The people who started pursuing Holiday Sanity. Not because I did anything special, but because I'm working very hard to build a business that can survive life.

It's easy to say that funerals and travel (and busy holiday seasons) are unusual. To assume this is something rare. That the this is just a bump in your otherwise stable business. That dealing with that kind of rush of orders (or personal life) is just something you have to survive for a few months.

But the fact is, this IS your business and your life.

Messy, sad, busy, exciting, exhausting, time off for recovery or traveling and handling whatever comes up.
Sitting down to write, standing in line at the Post Office, answering emails.
Your business is built in the quiet, focused, planned times.

But it's not really a  business until it survives through the messy, busy, scattered times.

How your business behaves in the hard times is a sign of its overall health.


If you can't take an afternoon off to bake cookies, or you're buried under holiday orders – this is a sign that your biz needs to get healthier. Instead of looking at this crazy time as something to get through, approach it as a time of training and information-gathering.

In these crazy times, your business is telling you what it needs. It might be automation, scaled up production or shipping efficiency  This is what your business needs to not only thrive when you're busy, but to grow into what you want it to be.

Instead of powering through the hard times (and holiday season!), learn from them. Take notes, make lists, experiment.

What is your business (and life) telling you it needs right now?


Need to take an extended leave from your biz? Check out my course with Stacey Trock of FreshStitches: Take a Break (without breaking your biz!)

Want more survival tips? Check out the (free) Definitive Guide.

Sign up here to get more on surviving your business adventures, no matter the season.


Holiday Sanity, from Tara Swiger


The Holiday Sanity Kit gives you the space, questions, and system for learning from your busy holiday season. Make plans, get to work…and then reassess what actually worked and what didn't.
Grab yours here.

4 Comments on Funerals, travel, and holidays: how to make your business more sustainable, from the hard times out.

  1. Kylie
    November 15, 2012 at 10:17 am (11 years ago)

    This is wonderful because it is so so true, but not something I’d thought about in this way before. It reminds me of how my meditation teachers talk about practice: that meditation is even more valuable and critical in the tumultuous times than in the easy breezy times. 

    I think my business is telling me it needs some ongoing offerings, so that new things don’t need to be created and launched every month. Yep. Ongoing offerings, for sure.

  2. Tara Swiger
    November 15, 2012 at 10:21 am (11 years ago)

    Yes! Exactly Kylie! And I totally agree with what your business is telling you 🙂
    Paying attention to where the pressure is coming from (creating and launching monthly) is a great way to figure out how to release it. Can’t wait to see what this looks like!

  3. Rebecca @ Patterned
    November 15, 2012 at 11:55 am (11 years ago)

    Thank you for this Tara.  It’s something I’ve really been grappling with as “life” just seems to keep piling up.  

    I wrote a post about handling vacations before I went to Mexico (, but dealing with the unexpected is much harder.  Illness, Hurricane Sandy, and now my dog having a cancerous tumor … it’s tough and trying to both take care of myself and forging ahead in creating my business (especially at such a baby stage when I need to get it off the ground) is challenging.  I’m trying to take baby steps to keep from feeling overwhelming and that seems to be helping.  And letting go of the things that fall to the wayside. 

    A big reason I am pursuing my own business is to be able to create a life that works with … my life.  These moments are reminders of the big vision of what I’m creating.

  4. Tara Swiger
    November 15, 2012 at 12:01 pm (11 years ago)

    Oh, Rebecca, I’m so sorry to hear about your dog!
    That’s so hard!
    And yes – at the baby stage of a business, everything kind of stays piled up until you have the product and the customers and can get into a flow.