What do you do when you realize that debilitating pain might be that unwelcome guest that never leaves your side?Most people hurtle towards depression, unable to cope with excruciating pain on a daily basis. Every once in a while, we see someone who goes beyond everything to mount that pain, nudging and cajoling it every day to listen to her, willing her body to support her. And then goes on to ignite something so much bigger than herself that thousands of others look up to her for inspiration and support! Every once in a while, we come across someone like Hilary Jastram!
Diagnosed with a rare neurological disorder called transverse myelitis in 2014, she was rendered unfit to work for anyone else. Kicked into a corner by her new condition, Hilary knew it was time to realize her lifelong dream of being an entrepreneur. Fueled by the agonizing pain that was a constant in her life now, she founded SickBiz, a website dedicated to bringing resources, hope and mentors together for sick people who run businesses. Besides this, she is a novelist, author on sites like the Huffington Post, Mighty, The Good Men Project and several others. She is also the founder of J.Hill marketing, a copywriting and marketing company.
I had a little chat with Hilary and came away inspired. Read on to know what it can do to you!
Hello Hilary, it’s wonderful to meet you. SickBiz is your latest venture, which you founded especially for sick entrepreneurs. Can you tell us a little about that?
Sick Biz is a non-profit dedicated to providing hope, hacks, help and resources to chronically ill and disabled entrepreneurs. We are building out our resources to assist in a variety of ways, through business development, skill sharpening, scholarship and grant help, life and business coaching and money mentorship. Our community is collaborative and we implement ideas from many sources to ensure all members’ needs are considered.
How does SickBiz help people with illnesses to become or grow as entrepreneurs?
We can help entrepreneurs develop marketing plans, business plans, implement time-saving and energy-saving hacks and guide them in learning what they can do to support themselves as entrepreneurs.
Also Read: Amy Morin: How a grieving foster parent became a source of strength for millions of others and a best-selling author
You are also a freelance writer – a writer on the Huffington Post, The Mighty and an editor on The Good Men Project. Of course, you also have a family! How do you divide your time?
I am pretty lucky and my kids are all older. Two are out of the house, so it is just my hubby, my daughter and me. I have three workstations and the absolute ability to extend or shorten my workday, to work from bed, the couch, or my office, that also has a couch since sitting at a desk is impossible. I say, “Yes,” and then figure things out from there. I also have a small circle of people I depend on and that I send projects to when I need to delegate. My quest for balance is not always perfect, but I know I can always try again the next day and I have such a special tribe of people who truly know me and we care about each other. I also have an ironclad rule about dinner. We all eat together, even if it’s just in the living room. We take turns talking about our day and asking questions to make sure we all feel heard. And no phones allowed!
What is your writing schedule?
Whenever inspiration hits! And it hits often! I keep notes for potential articles on my phone in the Notes section, on a Google Sheet and in a tablet in my purse. The key is that when you have those watershed moments of illumination, there is a reason. If you are in a discovery mode, other people will be moved by your idea or spark, too. I never doubt what I will share. I just go with it and it usually resonates. If I couldn’t write, I don’t know if I could survive. It allows me to breathe, is a tension relief and is integral to me. I don’t envision ever stopping.
What are your thoughts about women entrepreneurs, with growing families?
Be realistic, but keep shooting for it. When my kids were little, I finished my novel, Killing Karl. Of course, you are more than a mother; that is one facet of who you are. As long as you can take care of your family, you’re fine. Everyone’s journey looks different and some mothers need to work to feel settled and validated. It makes them better mothers and it models for their children that attending to and nurturing dreams to fruition is possible. It’s freeing and joyful for children to see you in your passion. Their own passion blazes and they learn how limitless they are.
What is the best way for other entrepreneurs to reach you?
They can reach me through jhillmark.com or sickbiz.com.
What is the one habit you have that you think might help other entrepreneurs?
Buoyancy. You absolutely can reroute the pathways in your brain that have been put there based on your thought process and your handling of situations. You can stop whatever conditioned response you have learned, and do whatever you want to do. Be open to the lesson you might have been waiting a while to learn. I ask myself, do I have what I need today? I always answer, “Yes.” I am taken care of, and I am buoyant.
What is your message for fellow entrepreneurs?
When you become mired in self-doubt, you can have those thoughts, but let them pass like a wind out of your head. Imagine your doubts evaporating and focus on the ACTION. I used to tell my kids, “It doesn’t matter how you feel about doing the dishes. They need to be done.” So, your self-doubt also doesn’t matter in a sense. It doesn’t have to stop you. Your business actions, whatever you need to do to grow your business, still has to be done. So do it and deal with your feelings (if they are still there) later. A lot of time, if you don’t feed that negative focus, self-doubt withers and disappears.
What is your vision for SickBiz? What can we see in the future?
Right now, we are building out our resources page and this is the most valuable part of the website. We want to be a non-profit with an extreme focus on value, on helping chronically ill and disabled entrepreneurs transform their lives and themselves through notice of available funding, grant and scholarship opportunities, coaching programs, job boards, financial consultations, business development and other initiatives we have yet to develop, but that will come from our collaborative community. It’s vital that the people most deeply affected drive us to deliver, holistic and complete support.
Finally, what do you like about Kidskintha?
Your articles are real and the one about Millennial parenting hacks is genius. Befriending your morning mood falls right into line with flowing more in our lives and not fighting as much. Why fight our feelings. Let’s make peace with them. And I have long been high off the bliss of checking off the to-do list. I do jam everything in there and then, again, it’s not overthinking but tackling (ticking that box) that will slam dunk your day. I’m also in love with the branding and your engaging illustrations. 🙂
Thank you, Hilary!