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Self-employed vocal instructors have to work to make money. If we don’t work, we don’t get to simply “call in sick” and still get paid while we stay in bed with a bowl of chicken noodle soup.
But simply deciding that we “can’t afford to get sick” doesn’t give us any more immunity than the average human being.
And yet for so many of us, this type of mind-over-matter attitude seems to be the only game plan when it comes to illness.
We’re not doing anyone any favors by coming to work sick. And although canceling lessons will always be a last resort for obvious reasons, sometimes the smartest and most professional thing to do when we’re sick is to tell our students to stay home. Here’s why:
You could be prolonging your illness by dragging yourself to work when you should be resting.
In many cases, particularly for seasonal viral infections, rest is the only remedy for what ails us, along with a steady intake of fluids and healthy food.
When we don’t allow our bodies to focus on the work of fighting infection, it could take us longer to fully recover. We could even risk turning simple illnesses into more complicated infections.
Wouldn’t it be smarter to simply take a day or two to recover rather than risk being stuck on bed rest for weeks?
You could be exposing your students to your illness, which would cause them to miss lessons with you.
With contagious diseases like colds and the flu, what goes around comes back around one way or another. You might be avoiding financial loss by coming in to teach when you have a contagious illness, but in the process, you would be exposing all your students to your germs, which could cause them to cancel lessons with you.
Even if you have a cancellation policy, this still disrupts your workflow and your students’ progress.
You could be costing your professional students some valuable performance opportunities.
If you have a student who has a studio session scheduled in a week or a live performance coming up in a few days, you could be jeopardizing their livelihood by exposing them to your germs. You wouldn’t want someone else doing that to you—why would you do that to your students?
The arguments for taking a sick day are numerous and hard to refute. But taking a day off to recover is easier said than done. The trick is simple: be prepared!
Save a percentage of your revenues for an emergency fund.
It would be even better to have a savings fund set up specifically for sick days rather than a general fund for all emergencies (because there are a lot of different kinds of emergencies).
If you save up for one or two days’ worth of income per month, you would be giving yourself at least 12 “sick days” per year. This would make it easier to prioritize your health if and when you should become ill.
Look into investing in “sick leave” insurance.
Depending on where you live and work, there may be insurance plans available for self-employed individuals that could help bridge the financial gap in the event of a critical illness.
These could be expensive, but depending on your risk factors and income, an insurance plan could make a huge difference if you should ever become seriously sick and require an extended leave of absence.
Be consistent when it comes to your studio policies regarding sick students.
Encourage remote/online lessons for sick students who really don’t want to miss lessons. As the cold and flu season approaches, remind all your students about your cancellation and sick day policies.
Last but not least, don’t be afraid to send students home if they are not well!
As a self-employed professional, your health is your number one asset.
Your studio doesn’t run without you. While it might feel self-indulgent to take a day off with a cold or flu, it’s actually the smartest decision you could make as a professional.
If you’re not feeling well, you won’t teach well; it’s as simple as that. So make a plan, be prepared, and if or when the time comes, call in sick!
Your body (and your business) will thank you for it.
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