Ep 125 -- The Spooniepreneur Life


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A stroke is a forced opportunity to reevaluate our personal and professional lives. Maybe we don't think we can do our previous jobs as well. Or maybe others make that decision for us. Regardless, is now a good time to go into business yourself?


Of course, being an entrepreneur always has its challenges. Pursuing business ownership with stroke related disabilities or Chronic illness poses some additional challenges. And some opportunities

Nicole Neer is a Spooniepreneur -- a business owner and coach living with multiple chronic illnesses. She helps other spoonies -- like stroke survivors navigate and thrive in the entrepreneurial world. We talk all about it in this episode.


Nicole Neer stands against a white wall looking at the camera with her hands in her pockets. She wears a blue shirt with puffy sleeves and blue jeans

Nicole Neer is the founder and CEO of Bloom Admin Services, a full-service virtual support agency providing online business management, podcast editing, and virtual assistance for online businesses. Because of her experience of being an entrepreneur living with Fibromyalgia, Bipolar Disorder, Anxiety, Sleep Apnea, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Nicole is passionate about helping those living with chronic illnesses to build resilient businesses that cope with whatever life throws their way. She's also the host of the Spooniepreneur podcast, a show that highlights what it's like to be an intentional entrepreneur who makes the most of the time and energy you have.

6 Tips for Disabled Business People

1. Decide what it will be.

What do you want to do with your business? It helps a lot if you are passionate about it, but you also need to consider the market. What role do you want this business to play in your life? Is your focus to get rich or just make a little extra pocket change? Or is it somewhere in between?

I would also add that if you are on disability or Medicaid in the US, or other social support programs around the world, be aware of how working on your business could impact your continued eligibility for those programs.

2. Build business plan with non-revenue goals.

Instead of focusing on bringing in $500 or $5,000 this month, focus instead on the targets that will support the revenue. Maybe that's a certain number of Instagram followers or widgets made or Etsy store visits. Concrete, behavior oriented goals may be easier to visualize and focus on achieving

3. Map out your day to accommodate fatigue and naps.

If you deal with neurofatigue, plan for it. You're making your own hours and customer commitments. Fatigue planning, nap schedules, medical appointments, and home therapy are just as few things that impact our ability, energy level, and availability. You can and ought to build your business around these things

4. Plan how to handle bad days. Sometime we have great, high-energy days.

Sometimes we do not. On a good day, develop a plan for the bad days. Is that reallocating work? Is it getting someone to help you? Is it sub-contracting? Does it mean just delaying stuff? There are lots of ways to prepare for them. The important thing is that you do prepare

5. Be honest in advance.

Sometimes planning is not enough, and things do slip. Be honest about it. If you're not going to make a deadline, let the key parties know. Don't try to hide it. Managing expectations is the key to happy customers.

6. Over communicate.

This is related to number 5. People don't like negative surprises from their vendors. They like it even less when they find out you knew a week before you told them. Over communicating -- and doing so with integrity -- helps to set the appropriate expectations and reduce unpleasant surprises.

What do you mean by "Spoonie?"

Spoonies take their name from the Spoon Theory, first articulated by  Christine Miserandino. You can read her essay here.

Basically, it's a way of explaining energy levels folks living with chronic illness or disabilities have. Christine came up with the analogy while trying to explain to her friend what it was like going through a day with Lupus and how every decision we make affects other decisions later in that day.

You start the day with a certain amount of spoons, and everything from getting out of bed, to cooking breakfast, to getting dressed costs a certain number of spoons. When you're out of spoons, you're done for the day.

I'd encourage you to read Christine's essay.

Many disabled and chronically ill folks have embraced the analogy and call themselves spoonies.

Personally, I find it useful to explain why just because I can do something, it doesn't mean I should. For example, I CAN walk around outside without my cane, but it comes with a 2X spoon penalty. And personally, I'd rather save those spoons for something more important.

Hack of the Week

Post-it or Sticky notes are great, but they can clutter up a space. And your important reminders have a way of falling to the floor when you need them.

Trello is a digital alternative. It's a website where you can manage digital sticky notes.

These cards live in columns on a virtual wall and can have all sorts of different information on them. You can move them around from one column to another, change the order and more. It's a great project management system, tool for organizing procedures, or just a way to stay on top of the various things you need to do.

Plus it's a nice way to reduce the chance that something will slip our minds.


Where do we go from here?

Here is the latest episode of The Strokecast

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