chronic illness and business

7 Women Who Are Crushing It In Their Businesses with Chronic Illness

blog business and marketing personal development and mindset womens health and chronic illness Aug 05, 2018

When you are a female entrepreneur with chronic illness, there are a myriad of additional obstacles that you have to overcome when trying to run a business.  As if all of the “regular” obstacles aren’t enough.  Can I get an amen?

I often run across women who get discouraged or don’t think they can do it themselves and ask me how in the world I do everything I do while dealing with the impromptu brain fog and overwhelming fatigue that Fibromyalgia can toss out there whenever it feels like it.  Fibro is like that great kid that decides to have a tantrum at the WORST possible time.  Every.  Single.  Time.

Gather in closely because I’m going to tell you my secrets and then I’m going to share the stories of 6 other women to inspire and guide you if you are working your way through some of the same struggles.


The Answer to the Question, “How In The **** Do You Do The Things You Do With a Chronic Illness?”

I’m not going to sugar coat this thing with lollipops and rainbows and the occasional unicorn (although I love them all).  It is not an easy task.  For me, it really boils down to two things - preparation and automation.

Now you may think, Suzanne you can’t prepare for those days when everything goes to shit.  And I’m here to tell you that you CAN.  Here is how I pull it off:

  1. I have a bank of content that I add to whenever my brain is clicking. Then I have something to pull from when the brain says, “not today sister!”  I have about 100 posts at this point and several other things I can pull from – blogs, podcasts, trainings, etc.


  1. I have backup plans. If I have scheduled Lives or Challenges, I have backup plans.  Sometimes you have to schedule to another time.  Sometimes if you know ahead of time that it’s a challenging week health wise, you can pre-record anything you need.  Use the schedulers that are available and your VA to help.


  1. I automate everything I possibly can. The perfect example is my podcast scheduling.  I use an app called Zapier to talk between Kajabi and Google Sheets to have my podcast scheduling about 98% automated.  The 2% is me reviewing the app and putting a “Y” in a column on a Google Sheet if I want to bring them on.  That’s it.  Meanwhile, they are getting their emails and invites and all of that jazz and I’m not doing anything.  Side note:  I do help my clients with this.


  1. I use social media schedulers within reason. I love social media schedulers – well a couple of them at least.  However, before we get on this train remember that in order to be seen in most algorithms you need to be posting content yourself as well.  I’m back to using Meet Edgar for Facebook and LinkedIn (I’ve kind of ditched Twitter).  And I use the beloved Tailwind for Pinterest and Instagram scheduling.


  1. I allow breaks. Big ones if necessary.  While I will be the first to teach that you must be consistent in your business, your health still comes first.  If you are exhausted and brain foggy, you are going to put out less than ideal work anyway so take the break you need, let your audience know why, and get yourself healthier. 


Now let’s move on to what my amazing contributors who are rocking their businesses while managing chronic illnesses have to say!


GUEST 1:  Stephanie Smart, Spiritual Mentor, Business Development Coach, and Motivational Speaker

Stephanie Smart is a Spiritual Mentor, Business Development Coach, and motivational speaker. Stephanie is an Instructor in Ortho-Bionomy, hold’s degrees in Oriental Medicine and Business Management, is a Reiki Master/Teacher, and has studied with a variety of Shamanistic/ Energy teachers for 30 years An experienced corporate business trainer, intuitive, and wellness professional, Stephanie incorporates the wisdom she has learned as a survivor of childhood abuse, raising profoundly gifted special needs kids, and being a recovering alcoholic and drug addict into her speaking engagements, workshops, and in working with private clients. Stephanie empowers her clients and audience to reconnect with their own inner wisdom. Her talks are filled with stories, resources, and tips for gaining clarity and taking action. Stephanie works with individuals and groups to integrate the notes of their Soul Songs into their lives and to be Authentic Truth Speakers. Stephanie’s clients learn to recognize their Soul Songs, gain clarity on the paths they want in life, develop actions steps, and begin the process of creating a life that has them dancing with joy. They truly become Authentic Truth Speakers embodying the notes of their Soul Song.


What are the top 1-3 things you have learned while running a business with a chronic illness that will help the audience?

  1. Treat yourself with the same amount of kindness you would give to anyone else who is ill.


  1. Be willing to talk about your chronic illness in your business. People need to see others walking this path and having a life.


  1. Don't get caught up in comparing how much you are able to do on any given day with what ANYONE else can do or even what you might have been able to do the day before. Set goals that are easily reachable with your chronic illness in mind and then allow yourself to do extra if you are having a good day. I tend to set weekly and monthly goals so there is ease in the day to day living.


What is your advice for new entrepreneurs who may be questioning whether or not they can pull this off?

Anyone can have their own business. Period. The piece that is important for those of us with Chronic Illness is to allow that to be part of the equation. Can I do x, y, or z? Can I do them everyday? Can I do something to get my business started but not everyday forever? Allow the fact that you have a chronic illness to be part of the planning process. When we allow our WHOLE selves to start a business we allow ourselves the grace to make a long term plan and the ability to succeed because we can build into our business plan how our life is shaped.


What challenges have you come across and how were you able to overcome them?

The biggest challenge for me has been the need to transition from a hands on wellness center to teaching, coaching, and speaking. Due to my tremors I had to stop doing acupuncture. Due to my muscle cramps and tremors I had to stop seeing clients for physical work. Due to the overall nature of my disability I had to start limiting how many clients I saw even when I was doing in person energy work. Sitting at the head of the massage table, moving around the table, and the logistics of a physical office became something that brought me pain. I had to choose my own wellbeing first. I also had to choose to stop teaching my beloved healing modality because a full weekend class was too much. Then I tried a full day and decided that the price for my own comfort was just too high. Realizing that my work life needed to change I sat down and wrote out all the parts of what I had been doing that brought me the most joy. I thought about the clients I had seen over the years who I loved having on my schedule. What did I do with them and why did they keep coming back to me? I wrote all of this down on pages and pages of paper. Then I made a list of what I did that was so good for me and for my clients. Then, I made a business from that. I took all the core elements of 30 years in the alternative health field and pulled out the pieces that I loved doing and that my clients also loved. This was the Soul Song of my business. The notes of which made me laugh and dance and my clients to have incredible transformations creating lives filled with ease and joy. Then, I asked myself a question. "Do I have any dreams that I have put on hold or didn't know how to make happen?" The answer was yes. I had always seen myself as a speaker. I had been doing bodywork workshops for years and teaching about alternative medicine but not speaking on a stage. So I added that to my business goals. Now I have Laughing Dragon Coaching. And it makes me very happy!

Where you can find Stephanie!



GUEST 2:  Jennifer Dragonette, Mind and Energy Coach

My Intro and Street Cred: I'm Jennifer Dragonette, and it's my goal to help others improve their symptoms of their diagnosis. Sitting at home, wishing you had the energy to leave to do the things you love is no way to live. Having to make up excuses not to do things with those you care about can stop. I empower others to make the choice to live beyond their illness! At age 12, I was diagnosed with FIBROMYALGIA, IBS, a hormonal imbalance that leads to early onset of menopause at 19 (reversed with medication that made me tired, crazy, fluffy, and sick) and later followed Chronic Fatigue. A few years ago, I began to fight to take back my health and now hope to help others on their path to living a life they love. I stood up to western medicine and went from popping 7 to 8 pills to 1 with diet and mindfulness. I'm on this journey still today, in 2018 I got to add a few more issues to the heaping list of diagnoses, but as I sat in doctors offices waiting rooms (8 appointments a week for a while) I realized I could become my "diagnosed illness" or I could tell that illness to "F" itself and live my life, I chose the latter. But for most people, they would have accepted and let this crap suck their energy. Not this girl. I'm out there living my life, adding fun into others lives, and making sure other people struggling are not having to do it the hard way like I did. I received my training from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition*, where I studied over 120 dietary theories and practical lifestyle coaching methods. With my knowledge, we co-create completely personalized actions based on your goals to move you toward your ideal vision of health within your unique body, lifestyle, preferences, and resources. My mission is to help others get "unstuck" from the life they currently live and find a more energy filled, happier, healthier, life with chronic inflammation. My journey started as obese, tired, moody, painful, anti-depressants popping, and struggling with wanting to get out of bed every day, to living a life I could never imagine I could have. We have the power to create our own path and find a purpose for our journey. With my new passion for life, health, nutrition, and Yoga. Now I desire to get out of bed, I trashed the prescriptions, and I'm constantly working to improve my dream life which includes helping others get out of the "stuckness" of chronic inflammation. It's not about being perfect, it's about never giving up, constantly learning, and loving who you are. Are you ready to get unstuck and start seeing your dreams come true? This can happen with decreasing inflammation and find the right way to "FUEL YOUR BODY". I would love to help you on your journey! It's time to stop dragging it through life and live the life you love! So while I'm a big fan of standing on my "soapbox" screaming to the world about fighting chronic fatigue and HELPING YOU live your fully energized life so you can say YES to all the things your heart desires!


What are the top 1-3 things you have learned while running a business with a chronic illness that will help the audience?


  1. Create a content bank. There will be days that you just don't have the energy to be creative.


  1. Empower yourself with the choice to be more than you illness


  1. When you conquer your thoughts you will be able to reach your dreams, by becoming more than your diagnosis.


What is your advice for new entrepreneurs who may be questioning whether or not they can pull this off?

If I can do it anyone can. I've been diagnosis with shit for 25 years and I've fought back. You must master your thoughts around your illness/diagnosis before you are able to emerge and grow in business. Never for one moment, admit you diagnosis has more control than you do. You have the power to choose how you react to you symptoms/illness/diagnosis, so react in a a manner that lifts you up. Know that even on your worst days, you still have a lot to offer! You are amazing and the fact you want to run your own business and you're ill, makes you a freaking badass! Never forgot that! You are not your illness! You are a freaking MF Rockstar!


What challenges have you come across and how were you able to overcome them?

The days you want to curl up and give up are real and a struggle. You can set yourself a weekly schedule the week before but be prepared for give and take. Remember on those weeks you are down, you don't have to do anything you planned. It comes back to creating a bank of content you can "Copy and Paste" or have prescheduled to post on those days of no motivation, sickness, or life happenings. Also, depending on your business, use your story to help relate to the audience. I have been known to do a live or create a post while sitting in a hospital bed. Shows hope and that moving past your shit is possible. You can do amazing things with and illness!

Where you can find Jennifer!


GUEST 3: Marin Turner, Health Coach and Lifestyle Motivator

Marin is a Wellness Coach, Lifestyle Motivator, writer, and chronic illness warrior living in Denver, Colorado with her her husband, daughter, and fur-babies. She has multiple invisible illnesses and has spent the last 3 years guiding, helping, and advocating for women with chronic illnesses and sharing the story of her own diagnosis and daily journeys. She specializes in helping other warriors restore balance in theirs lives.


What are the top 1-3 things you have learned while running a business with a chronic illness that will help the audience?

I know that it sounds cliche, but done is better than perfect. I have found that if I don't set reminders to get up and do something, it won't happen and that includes self-care. Don't give up. There will be days where your illness will make it feel like you should be doing anything other than running your own business. Those are the days to look yourself in the mirror or get out your journal and give yourself a good talking to. After all, look how far you've come already.


What is your advice for new entrepreneurs who may be questioning whether or not they can pull this off?

You wouldn't have started doing this if your heart wasn't in it. Listen to that piece of your heart and let it grow. Share it with your clients. Find a group of like-minded women to commiserate with and create with. You will make it.


What challenges have you come across and how were you able to overcome them?

A positive attitude can take you miles. I have a few illnesses that create situations that end up with me checked into the hospital more often than I would like. This can be hard on your schedule and the people around you. I have a go list for my husband of things that I will need while I am checked in. That list includes my computer and notebook. It's hard sometimes to find time to get larger projects finished, but I like to think of the hospital stays as the Universe's way of giving me that time. I always try to look on the bright side of things. Even new diagnoses become a chance to share new treatments and information with my clients.


Where you can find Marin!


GUEST 4:  Lisa Cipkar, Certified Integrative Health Coach and Certified Brain Health Coach

Lisa Cipkar is a certified integrative and brain health coach, specializing in Lyme disease, POTS, dysautonomia and chronic illness. She teaches patients how to obtain a clear diagnosis and then how to overcome that diagnosis by implementing simple, actionable steps that allow the patient to get back to living their life. By providing creative and confident guidance, Lisa has helped dozens of people regain their hope and break free from the limitations of labels and disease. Lisa’s practice is centered around a bio-individual approach to healing because one size does not fit all. She is dedicated to walking alongside her clients as they navigate the overwhelming world of chronic illness, inspired by her own 7-year, 22-doctor, international health battle that led to a diagnosis of Lyme disease. In addition to being partnered with several medical doctors as an adjunct to their practices, Lisa strives to create a ripple effect of abundant life for each person she meets. Lisa’s work has been featured on, The Mighty and several other publications. She is a frequent guest on podcasts and runs a private Facebook group focused on holistic support for long term illnesses. Whether you are newly diagnosed or ready to start edging back out into the real world again, Lisa has something to offer you no matter where you are in your journey. When she isn’t working with others you can find her exploring nature, reading, traveling or having a dance party with her son.


What are the top 1-3 things you have learned while running a business with a chronic illness that will help the audience?


  1. Automation! it keeps your business moving forward when you cant move at all!
  2. Give yourself grace on the tough days.
  3. Do the money making task first!


What is your advice for new entrepreneurs who may be questioning whether or not they can pull this off?

You can. if this is your passion, the drive is there. and having a business to run is a HEALTHY focus and can help you recover in ways you may not realize!


What challenges have you come across and how were you able to overcome them?

Everything! tech, child care as a single parent, money to invest in. i kept focused on what i could get done, kept my processes simple and focused on serving my clients at the highest possible level and opportunities came from that!


Where you can find Lisa!

Connect with her on Instagram as @lisathelymecoach or her blog at


GUEST 5: Morgan Sheets, Certified Wellness Coach

Morgan Sheets is a certified wellness coach who specializes in coaching clients who have created external success but lack inner fulfillment, feel frustrated and deeply disconnected from themselves and stuck in patterns that keep them unhappy to step into feeling good again from the inside out. Her coaching process is highly intuitive and she supports her clients to listen to their inner knowing and body, honor their authentic desires and transform their relationship with themselves, their life and business to create long-term holistic success. She is certified by the International Association of Wellness Professionals and has a Bachelor of Arts in Electronic Media Production with Concentrations in Business and Sociology. After receiving certification, Morgan joined the IAWP team as both a Student Advisor and Graduate Leader Coach. She has been a guest expert on podcasts, radio, and television spreading the message of living well and being well, naturally.


What are the top 1-3 things you have learned while running a business with a chronic illness that will help the audience?

When I started my business, I also began my recovery from my chronic illness. My health crisis is what inspired me to start my business. Here are the top 2 things I did that helped.


  1. I made a commitment to myself to prioritize my health and myself and focused on doing everything in my power to take care of me and not sacrifice my well-being for my business.


  1. I built my business around doing things in a way that supported my well-being through running it in alignment with my well-being blueprint.


What is your advice for new entrepreneurs who may be questioning whether or not they can pull this off?

Build your business around your well-being blueprint. There are many different ways to structure your business building activities and how you do the activities you need to do in your business. Create a structure that supports you and how you want to live life. I see this done backwards a lot, people live their lives around their businesses. I'd invite new entrepreneurs to build their business around their life. If you have a deep desire to create a business and life you love, then be persistent and just keep at it. Some things will come easy, some things will be hard. However, to me, becoming a corporate employee and working M-F from 8-4 everyday simply was not an option. I could not make myself live that life and do it, so I started my own business and figured things out as I went along.


What challenges have you come across and how were you able to overcome them?

The biggest challenges for me personally have been overcoming inconsistencies in income and how to market and sell myself in a way that feels good. My first business was providing massage therapy services and I didn't have to market myself at all. My business was built solely on referrals and it was really easy. When I shifted my path and became a coach, I really struggled. I didn't know how to market and sell myself because I hadn't had too and so I've had to learn how to do that in alignment with my well-being blueprint and it's been challenging. Now, I've finally discovered some methods that work for me and that I love doing, but the journey to get to this place was hard.


Where you can find Morgan!

Visit Morgan's website, to download your free guide, " 3 Simple Steps to Discover YOUR Well-Being Blueprint: So you know exactly what YOU need to live well, be well and thrive in your life and business! "



GUEST 6: Blair Denhof, Intuitive Business and Life Coach, Author, and Motivational Speaker

I am Blair Denhof, Intuitive Business and Life Coach, Author, and Motivational Speaker. I am all about finding who we authentically are underneath all the masks we put on and allowing that person to shine again. It is my calling to work with those who need more happiness, love and hope in their lives. Who want a change, but have no idea how to achieve it. Who find themselves stuck in the rat race of society and it isn't working for them. I once was there myself. I had it all, the white picket fence life, then I lost my husband. With that loss I also lost our home and everything we had worked hard to accomplish. I was left with an 18 month old son and 6 month old daughter who needed me to carry on. I buried the grief, rebuilt our lives and climbed the corporate ladder only to fall apart 5 years later from exhaustion, over work, failing health and depression. Why? Because I never allowed myself to grieve and to heal. After taking time to heal and grieve properly I was able to see a change in my health, my children, my life and my overall happiness. I wasn't "moving on", but I was "moving forward". I want to help others feel, heal and dive deep into a new life created from memories of the past and bright hope in the future.


What are the top 1-3 things you have learned while running a business with a chronic illness that will help the audience?


  1. It is okay to not be okay. I think we feel this overwhelming need to be perfectly fine all the time. Truth is NO one is fine all the time. People want to see that we aren't okay because that gives them permission to not be okay. When I finally realized this truth it was revolutionary in my business. I started connecting with people because they struggled too.


  1. Put yourself as a priority. As badly as you want to cut through the to do list that is a mile long, the most important thing you can do is to take time for you. I had to create a habit of taking care of me first thing in the morning and whenever I got overwhelmed during the day and in the evening before bed. I had to create a routine and learn to say no to some things so that I had time for me.


  1. Priorities. Some days you will never get it all done. Some days will be harder than others. Breaking down my to do list each day in what MUST get done and what I would LIKE to do has been major for me. Then I don't feel defeated when my to do list has items that aren't crossed off at the end of the day. I just add them on down into the week of when they MUST be done.


What is your advice for new entrepreneurs who may be questioning whether or not they can pull this off?

It is a roller coaster, but it can be a much smoother ride with some fine tuning and allowing yourself permission to be you. There are no perfect cookie cutter formula's. Matter of fact what makes you unique is that you can create this life you want and manage your health too. Finding a routine that works for you and putting a system into place for the days you already know you will be out of your zone is important. Then when it happens you are prepared and ready to cope. You will always have "on" and "off" days the main focus it to make the recovery from your "off" days easier and more efficient. YOU are amazing!


What challenges have you come across and how were you able to overcome them?

I feel like the challenges I found to be the hardest was that when I fell apart I felt like I had to just cave in and not show myself until I felt better. Truth was the days that I felt like not showing up I showed up to show others you can do it. I talked about what my struggles was on a Facebook live. I quit hiding and became authentic. All of a sudden people started really connecting because they struggled too and I gave them permission to struggle. It was okay to not be okay. I also am a perfectionist and to not complete all I needed done on a day that I was feeling unwell made me plummet even deeper...I had to create strategies that made me accomplish small items on those days with self care and to allow myself time to heal. I had to heal from the belief of not being accomplished if my to do list still lingered at the end of the day. It took a lot of healing inside, a lot of realizing what was going on and recognizing it for what it was, becoming the woman I already was even with my imperfections, and realize that my struggles was what made me who I am today and where I would be tomorrow. A HUMAN BEING.


Where you can find Blair!



I hope this article inspired you.  Please share with others who could use this message of empowerment for women with chronic illness who can feel left behind but don't need to feel that way.  We've got you!


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