So far in the “Closing Shop 101” series, we’ve covered your major options for closing your business permanently. However, what about temporary situations? I’m talking about major life changes where you need some time off, but you plan on returning to work…such as maternity leave, medical leave, and family leave.
The way I see it, you have three major short-term solutions, each with it’s pros and cons:
- Hire a replacement. First, the downside: this is the option I feel involves the most work–hiring an employee is not a light decision. It will increase your paperwork and will complicate the structure of your business. On the plus side, it allows your clients to continue receiving music therapy services, even when you’re gone. And from a business (and financial) standpoint, it gives you the option to have some sort of income stream continue to flow.
- Hire a subcontractor. Hiring a subcontractor has some of the same pros and cons as hiring an employee–but without the payroll taxes and some of the state and federal tax and benefits paperwork. On the downside (and the primary reason I chose to hire an employee versus use a subcontractor), you lose any control over the quality of the therapy work being performed if you use a subcontractor. Additionally, some clients (especially if you contract with facilities) are more comfortable–and may legally only be able to continue working with you–if you hire an employee versus use a subcontractor.
- Take a leave. This is by far the cleanest option. You create a break in services for a short period of time and plan to return after the break. If your business is solely service-oriented (as opposed to selling products), this will disrupt your income stream. But there are situations where this is your best option.
Personally, I’ve used options #1 and #3, one for each of my maternity leaves. Although my children are only two years apart, I was in a different phase in my business each time. So taking a simple 2-3 month leave worked the first time, whereas I was able to hire another therapist with my second child.
One last point to make–no matter which option you choose, make sure you communicate, communicate, communicate with your clients. Make sure they are comfortable with the new therapist (if applicable) and that they are clear and comfortable with the plan in place.
And don’t forget! This information here is for educational purposes only and is not meant to replace the advice you should seek from your attorney and accountant.