Keeping your business going

If you decide to keep your business open, be realistic about what you can do. You can get advice from different organisations, such as your local council, Jobcentre or Citizens Advice. If you already have professional advisers, such as an accountant or lawyer, ask them for advice.

There may be different ways of managing your workload:

  • Prioritisation – decide what has to be done now, and leave other tasks until later. Some tasks may not need your skills and experience.
  • Time management – be realistic about your time, schedule in time for breaks and allow extra time in case you don’t feel well.
  • Flexible working – think about other ways of working, such as working from home.
  • Delegation – think about other people who can do the work instead of you. Make sure they have the right skills and experience, and try not to give them more than a fair workload.

There may be other people in the business who want to help you.

Help with keeping your business going

If you decide to keep your business going, it is important to be realistic about what you can do. It will help to:

You can get advice and information about work and business issues for free or at a low cost from the following places:

  • your local council
  • your local Jobcentre (in England, Scotland and Wales), or your local Social Security Office or Jobs and Benefits Office (in Northern Ireland)
  • disability support organisations
  • your local Law Centre
  • your local Citizens Advice
  • the Money Advice Service or call 0800 138 7777
  • a financial adviser or your bank
  • your chamber of commerce or other local business networks
  • your trade union or professional association, if you belong to one
  • the website (in England, Scotland and Wales) or (in Northern Ireland).

If you have professional advisers, such as an accountant or a lawyer, this is a good time to ask for their guidance.

Going back to work was paramount. That was the first thing that was on my mind even before I had the surgery.


Managing your workload

These tips may help you manage your workload if you need to reduce the hours you can work.


Decide what absolutely must get done and what can be left until later. Prioritise tasks which need your unique skills and experience, and can’t be done by anyone else.

Time management

Be realistic about deadlines. Allow yourself extra time in case you do not feel well or something unexpected comes up.

Schedule in time for breaks and activities that help you to relax or feel better.

Flexible working

Think about different ways of getting the job done. Can you work from home instead of travelling to a customer?


Ask yourself who else can do the work. If you do not have employees, you can still have a team. You might want to think about the following: 

  • Can you afford to hire a virtual secretary or bookkeeper who works from their own premises?
  • Can you use a subcontractor for some parts of a project?
  • Could someone else manage your website for a while?
  • If you ship goods, can a fulfilment house handle this temporarily?
  • Which tasks have to be done every day at a regular time?
  • Can someone cover the days you are not available or feel unwell?
  • Which tasks do you least enjoy? These are likely to take more of your energy, so it may help if someone else can do them.
  • Can you group tasks according to the skills needed to complete them, for example, sorting post, filing, answering the phone or driving? Then when someone offers to help, you will be ready to describe the sorts of things that need doing.
  • Do you have friends in the same trade or profession who could pick up some of your work for a while?
  • If other people offer to help, do they have the skills and qualifications to do the work legally and to the required standards? For example, a heating engineer will need to be CORGI registered.
  • Are there jobs around the house that someone could help with, so that you can concentrate on work?

Other people in the business, or your family, may really want to help. It can help to be open and honest about what is really needed. Ask yourself if they know what is involved in any work they are offering to do and whether they have the skills and time to help. Try not to let them take on more than is fair or more than they can handle.

Make sure they can update you regularly, ask questions along the way or change their minds if it turns out to be too much.

You can use the following checklist to think about possible sources of help to keep your business going.

Help with running your business

Task or problemPossible solutions
Handling new jobs temporarilyA contact in the same trade could help
EmailsSet up a suitable 'out of office' response
MeetingsUse SkypeTM or have a conference call
PaperworkTry to do as much of your paperwork as possible online
Lifting heavy objectsSubcontract the work, or use help from family or friends
Delivering goodsFamily or friends could drive and help you load and unload

I am back full-time but mainly rebuilding my business virtually from scratch. When I was diagnosed, I outsourced all bookings for assignments I had on my books.


Back to If you are self-employed

Self-employment and cancer

If you’re self-employed, you may worry about work and money during cancer treatment. Support is available to help you cope.

Working during treatment

Cancer treatments can cause side effects of symptoms at work. There are ways to make things easier for you.

Making decisions about work

If you are diagnosed with cancer and self-employed, you may have to make some decisions about your business.

Managing your finances

If you’re self-employed, you may worry about your finances. Support is available to help you.