Last year I made a decision that affected every aspect of my life; after much deliberation and medical investigation, I elected to have both of my breasts removed by double mastectomy.
This decision was not taken lightly, but it was one I had been wrestling with for my entire adult life. I had a 25-year history of breast disease, which had been managed with regular check ups, tests, medications, surgeries and other forms of poking and prodding. However, there came a point where my surgeon suggested it was time to consider more drastic action rather than drastic medication.
I was offered a few options, but my best bet for a longer life meant a double mastectomy. I was sick of having this disease – which had been with me for more of my life than not – control everything. So I made the tough decision and hoped it would give me some freedom to live my life again.
Now I’ve given you some background as to what 2013 was all about, I want to talk about what this decision meant to my business, The Transcription People, and what happened as a result. Knowing the recovery time from a double mastectomy was anywhere between six and 12 months, I planned ahead and systemised as much of TTP as possible. In addition, I trained my office staff to take over in my absence and got the hang of delegation.
I knew having the angst of running and monitoring a business would not help me recover, so I made sure everyone around me was empowered to do it for me. Or so I thought. My ‘set and forget’ business model broke down less than a month after my major operation. I had been home from hospital for just three weeks when my full-time office administrator resigned. Suddenly I wasn’t having the relaxed recovery time my doctor had demanded; I was back at work putting out fires. It was less than an ideal situation.
This hiccup became one of many that plagued me for months and changed the way I operated the business. I became resentful of TTP, my staff, and everything else that went with the business I had worked for 14 years to build. The knock-on effects of coming back to work too soon, I believe, were that I made some bad decisions regarding staff (three more office staff soon after resigned) and my body was running at only 20 per cent capacity. I was not in a good place personally or professionally, and even contemplated selling TTP so I could do the right thing for myself and put my health first.
So, you ask, what lessons did I take from this dire situation? The biggest positive was that watching the TTP infrastructure crumble before my eyes forced me to take a really good look at the business (particularly from a financial angle) to see what was working and what wasn’t. I found pockets of money that weren’t being utilised effectively, prompting me to question some of the investments I had made.
This line of questioning led me to the conclusion that TTP needed to leave its corporate office space and become an online operation again. I’ve now come full circle with this business – after starting it from home, renting commercial premises for five years and purchasing an office, now it’s back at my home address without all the overheads and politics that had made me question my abilities as a director.
The past two years have been difficult for me as a business owner and director, but I am pleased to say I’ve learnt from the experience, made changes to ensure nothing similar will happen again and I’ve made my health a priority.
Just watch this space for what I can do when I’m operating at 100 per cent capacity!