Five years — and 4 days — ago, Thomas and I stood in front of one of Otto Wagner’s most beautiful Jugendstil buildings, sweating gently in the unseasonably warm sun, and said “I do.”

And 4 days ago, at 10pm, he turned to me and said: “We missed our anniversary.”

Because we essentially forgot we were in September.

Because we’ve both been sick for 3 weeks.

This isn’t really a blog post about health — this is just something that can happen when you move countries and don’t have the antibodies everybody else does.

And as I lay in bed, for maybe the second week, I thought a thought I’ve been thinking for years:

Thank god I don’t have a fucking job.

Thank god I run my own business

For nearly a month now, I’ve been too sick, and far too tired, to work. At all. Email? Piled up. Strategy? Impossible. Tweeting? Barely. Walking 2 blocks in the summer heat to my favoritest farmer’s market? Total nonstarter. Ladies and gents, I was too tired to troll eBay for mid-century furniture. That’s how sick I’ve been. Thomas, too.

It’s been a bitch of a month.

So, with our asses stuck in bed, how much money did we lose?

…None. This is what happened while we were laid up:

  • Freckle kept chugging along, billing every day.
  • Our tech ebooks made a few sales.
  • Early days with this particular virus, I did drag my ass out of bed to run the 30x500 Bootcamp with Alex. But, we could have rescheduled it and that would have been fine, too.

Because I have employees. Right?

We do have 2 really awesome employees (plus a virtual assistant). But…that’s not what keeps the lights on. Freckle is a software as a service, not a hamster wheel. It bills every day automatically. Nobody has to be there to press some kind of Run Another Day button.

Devon and Cannon make sure our Freckle customers are as happy as possible: they answer emails, write blog posts, fix bugs, think of ways to make things better. (They don’t touch our other products.)

But, I speak from experience when I say: Freckle would survive just fine for a month or two or three, even without that daily caretaking. Momentum would carry it for quite a while; customer attrition would be present, but remarkably low, considering, even with support emails going unanswered.

I know this because…

I have a chronic illness.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Fibromyalgia. Hypothyroidism. Dysautonomia. Anemia. I have some devil’s brew of sucky health problems.

What it comes down to is: I’m out of the picture, a lot. Yep, I have better days, weeks, months. But there have been multi-month stretches when I was too sick to work, and Thomas was too busy taking care of me to take care of Freckle. And guess what? It still made money. It still paid our bills. It still made most of our customers happy. We’re still in business.

Freckle turns 5 years old this December and will cross $1,000,000 in lifetime revenue at about the same time.

Yes, being stuck in the house for weeks at a time, exhausted, can be pretty lame at times. But I often think about just how much worse my life could be:

  • I could have a boss breathing down my neck, making my life hell.
  • I could be fired and lose my healthcare and income
  • I could be told my sick days are “out” and I had to use up scant paid vacation…or unpaid leave
  • Two words: “Disability insurance.”
  • I could have an investor breathing down my neck, making my life hell.
  • I could have an investor who fired or replaced me.

I shudder to think what my life would be like if we hadn’t spent the time and effort to build our business.

Yes, the pay-off is far from instant. Yes, the addiction to a weekly paycheck (or fat consulting checks) is incredibly tough to break.

And every minute of mastering those urges, every minute of stress, and “unpaid” work (investment work), has paid me a million times in return, for the peace of mind to just be able to take care of myself, relax, and get well.

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