I had plans to write about something much different this week.  

My short list of topics going into the weekend was promising.  The Fourth of July inspires thoughts of opportunity and the independence small business provides.  David King just celebrated twenty-five years in business.  Poke Burrito opened to lines out the door, indicating a local market for trendy food in Downtown Oak Park that we might not have foreseen a few years ago.  I brought back a few thoughts on international microcredit systems from a conference I intended.  Mid-year dues renewal notices are going out this week, prompting me to remind folks about our Chamber’s value proposition.  Lots to write about.

And then I got the text.

On Saturday morning my brother-in-law collapsed in Des Moines while on a cross-country camping trip with my sister.  I was in Iowa by dinner, in time to hear the doctor proclaim the heart surgery a success, but warn of a long rehab time.

As I write this Sunday morning from a Days Inn, my sister is on the phone keeping east coast relatives apprised.  We’ll head to the hospital shortly.  I expect much sitting around as we await updates and stare cluelessly at beeping monitors.  My role is to help my sister, stay calm, get my nephews from the airport, pack my sister’s camping equipment and take care of whatever other odd jobs arise.

In the long pauses between errands, I’ll have plenty of downtime.  I know I can count on my Chamber team to take over for me at the office, but I’m grateful for some work-related distraction.  I will check a few emails, reschedule meetings and do a bit of work on our member database.  Sometimes it is nice to have tasks that feel within your control – especially when life is out of control.

Which brings me to my only real business point this week. Be prepared.  Have an awesome team.  Document processes so others can step in. Know what you can do remotely and store files on the cloud.  Small business management requires a flexibility that we don’t appreciate until we need it.

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Cathy Yen

Cathy Yen is the Executive Director of the Oak Park River Forest Chamber of Commerce.  She has lived in Oak Park for 21 years and done business locally, first as a retailer and then as a small business...