A migraineur entrepreneur: yes, it can be done!

In the very early days of my blog, I talked about how my headache specialist recommended I not work a full-time job right out of graduate school.

My migraine episodes were frequent and severe enough that a 40 hour/week job was not for me—at least that’s what was suggested to me. But, at least for this migraine sufferer, barely working part-time wasn’t cutting it. It didn’t help my routine or my sleep schedule, and I didn’t feel fulfilled working the part-time jobs I held for years. I love kids, so babysitting and tutoring were wonderful in ways, but something was missing. I love editing, but being a professional editor for life doesn’t feel like the way my life should go. So I did what many people are doing during this time of financial upheaval: I went ahead and tackled a lifelong dream, to open my own business.

I knew that life would change once we went from an online and events-based bookstore to a brick & mortar “real life” bookshop, but man oh man, was I underprepared for what was to come! I am thrilled to report that I’ve only had a few workdays so far that were significantly impacted by migraine, and my very understanding staff took the helm when I needed them.

This is not to say things are totally smooth from a health perspective. I’m still skipping meals like crazy, and I spent the first few weeks of business working well over a hundred hours a week (and that is just on bookstore stuff--that doesn’t include my part-time writing and editing jobs!). My sister, my boyfriend, and a couple of dear friends all approached me to say how wonderfully well the store was going but that I needed to take a step back. That I would crash and burn if I kept going at the rate I was going. It was hard to agree with them—my business was off to a terrific start, I was in the shop from 9 until 9 every day, and the feedback was phenomenal. But luckily I started to see some signs of burnout when I was on my tenth and eleventh hours of work, and their words of wisdom came rushing back.
It was hard to do, but I scaled back my hours significantly and gave keys to my small staff, all of whom I trust. I implemented systems through which they didn’t need to call or email me all the time throughout the day. Eventually, I will take not hours but a couple of days off a week. I’ll get there.

How do you entrepreneur migraineurs do it? What challenges did you face in starting your business, and how is it going now?

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