Posted by: Chris Tomlinson
Category: Business Briefs
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Chris Tomlinson

Nationwide Insurance uses the slogan, “Life comes at you fast,” and they’re right, it does.

At the beginning of 2008, I was still trying to recoup from the horrible Fall and Winter months of 2007. After going through the exercise of planning out the year once again, I told myself 2008 was going to be my most successful one yet.

The idea(s) were there. The marketing plan sketched out. The creative juices flowing. I was ready to cold-call and kiss clients, lick stamps for postcards mailings, even send out white papers. Yadda yadda yadda. You know the drill.

Then came the unexpected. Ah yes, those delightful little ventures into Mylanta® Land that we all know we should plan for, yet rarely do.

As a “hobby,” I help people survive the unexpected. Well, I do my best anyway. You see, I’ve been a volunteer firefighter for almost 20 years. So, by owning my design business in my small community, I felt I could provide a valuable design and printing service and help my neighbors. Just some of the fine services offered here at Gonink World Headquarters.

The beginning of the year was busy for both my business and the fire department. Then on February 12th, we had two house fires in less than six hours.

I rushed away from work around 4:30 to assist a nearby department on a large house fire. Tired, I returned home around 10:00 p.m. The second call came while I was finishing up with a reheated dinner.

This house fire went from arrival to extinguishing “hot spots” in about ten minutes. No sweat. Well, okay … a little swear. It was a wee bit hot in there. Then, while standing in the kitchen conversing with one of the captains, I heard a “crack.” The next thing I knew (or didn’t, as the case may be), I was out cold. I hate when that happens.

During a trip to the emergency room, the diagnosis was a broken neck with a rouge disc pressing against my spinal cord. Lovely.

My sister works in this very ER. She’s even talked about people in my very same situation … people who don’t walk out of the hospital on their own.

First up for me? Emergency surgery to replace the disc and get the vertebrae fused together to try and prevent any further damage to my spinal cord. That sounded good. “Further damage,” sounded kind of bad.

What followed, you ask? Partially closing my business to begin a grueling set of physical therapy appointments preformed by who appeared to be a student of the Marquis DeSade. For 30 days I could only work part-time.

Obviously, the business struggled. But, by early April, I was given the green light to go back to work full-time. None the less I was still required to attend physical therapy three times each week.

At this point in my life I had tasted the sweet ambrosia of local and international success. I had endured the feast and famine phases of business. And, I learned more about how to survive than I ever imagined possible.

So what’s next?: Starting over. Succeeding professionally and personally. That’s what.

Chris Tomlinson | Designer / Printer
Gonink: Design & Print | Gonink: Blog

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Comments to this post:

Comment: Chris Tomlinson says


The roof inside the home collapsed on myself and two other firefighters, but I received 99% of the blow to the head. Even wearing a protective helmet was no match for a 4′ x 8′ piece of 5/8″ drywall. That’s at least a whopping 80lbs hitting me square on the head.

31st July 2008 Quote

Comment: Chris says

Sounds like you need to establish some links with other designers who could support you and your business in times of accident/illness, holidays and work overload. It would take a lot of trust but other designers have the same problems. Hope you have recovered!

2nd September 2008 Quote

Comment: Chris Tomlinson says

You asking for a job? Ha! I kid, I kid.

You are right, I need that resource as should any indy designer. But I’m also lucky enough to live in an area where everyone knows everyone, so word got around fast. And my in-progress clients were more than understanding.

2nd September 2008 Quote

Comment: Andrew says

Wow, crazy times. Are you fully recovered? Did you have income insurance?

26th November 2008 Quote

Comment: Chris says


Well I’m not “fully” recovered. It sounds as if it could take 2+ years for my spinal cord to actually heal and it may never fully heal. But considering the alternative outcomes, I’ll deal with the aches and pains. Y’know?

I’m glad my series gave you some sort of insight as to how it all works and maybe an idea that “life” can just happen. And boy oh boy, when it does, hold on and keep your eyes on the prize. That sounded cheesy. :o /

26th November 2008 Quote

Comment: Thomas Richards says

Thanks for sharing this informative and helpful post. I’ve been thinking to The Ups and Downs of Business.

11th December 2008 Quote

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