Small businesses can take special precautions against flu

• First year in business or a business undergoing major change. The first year I was self-employed, I caught more colds than any year of my life. Why? Well, first, I was out at meetings, networking, shaking hands. But most importantly, I was undergoing a lot of stress. And stress lowers your immune system. If this is your first year in business, you've got to be especially careful. You may have lost a job, had trouble figuring out what to do, and you're certainly nervous about how much money you'll make. Even if you've been in business for many years, 2009 is a challenging, tough year. And that means a lot more stress.

A strong immune system is the best defense against any illness, including swine flu. So, get enough sleep. Eat healthy foods. Exercise. Take breaks from your business.

Finally, keep perspective and don't panic. When I see what's happening in Mexico, I'm heart-sick both for those who are ill or who've died, and also for all those small businesses that are closed, employees without income, families perhaps going hungry. We don't want that to happen here. We see what's already happening to small pork farmers, who've been badly hurt by people avoiding pork (so let's start calling it H1N1 virus — it has nothing to do with pigs).

Be sensible but be sane.

Rhonda Abrams is president of The Planning Shop, publisher of books for entrepreneurs. Her newest book is Successful Marketing: Secrets & Strategies. Register for Rhonda's free business tips at www.PlanningShop.com. For an index of her columns, click here. Copyright Rhonda Abrams 2009.

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