How chronic illness nearly made me close my business

Living with a chronic illness over the past year has forced me to redefine myself as a person and as a business.

I’m a baking teacher.

That might sound like an incredibly simple statement. But it’s taken me a long time to accept that I am somewhat limited in what I can do these days and that I don’t bake as much as I used to – and that’s ok. It’s also taken a while to find the pride in my business again.

When I first started experiencing tiredness and lethargy, I thought I just needed some iron tablets.

Fast forward six months and my couch was starting to become my second home. I was struggling with chronic fatigue, hand pain and a foggy brain.

The doubts begin

While I was trying to work out what was happening to my body I started telling people left, right and centre that I was booked. And sometimes I genuinely was, but mostly I wasn’t. A cake I could usually bust out in two hours was taking me a whole day because I had to constantly rest.

That strips you of your confidence. Why take on an order if I was worried I wouldn’t be up for fulfilling it? And if I’m not baking, then I’m just a sham of a business. And if I’m not Carli the baker anymore, I’m just Carli who works part-time and is lazy the rest of the time. That was the narrative playing in my head.

So I withdrew from my business.

It seemed easier to pretend it didn’t exist than tell people the reality of what was going on, because other than being a couch potato, I had no idea what was going on!

Enter workshops

The saving grace for my business was that a month or two before my physical health went downhill, I’d started planning to run decorating classes. I researched thoroughly and thought long and hard about trying something new when my business had been going so well already.

I first launched in July and was surprised when the classes quickly sold out. I was even more surprised how much I loved teaching classes, it was the best high! But by the time I ran the next round of workshops in November, I needed a whole working week off my part-time job to recover.

It would take me a little while longer to get out of my slump and find the positive out of feeling crap – I’d discovered a new twist on my baking passion! I slowly started to feel proud about my business again and could see a future.

It had to be a future based on my current limitations, so I sat down to think about the aspects of my business I loved most. Top of the list was my new found teaching passion! It had given me a sense of purpose and satisfaction I hadn’t known before. And I knew with a few tweaks that I could make classes work with my health.

The realisation

So I’ve redefined myself. I’m a baking teacher.

I’m a proud small business owner.

I’m Carli who works part-time and has a business teaching workshops.

I might have a newly diagnosed chronic illness (hypermobility syndrome) which can limit me physically, but it can’t stop my passion for baking.

Note: I am still open for business! In 2020 workshops, cookie orders, allergy orders and wedding cakes are my focus, though all enquiries are welcome. Limited orders are being taken, so please book well in advance!