Do you ever worry about what would happen to your business if something were to happen to you?
Being a business owner brings along many challenges and responsibilities. One of these is the risk that your business may be affected by something unexpected. You may get injured, your child may get sick or you might lose a loved one. You may even have to evacuate because of a natural disaster. Or, you may have to go in for an unexpected or emergency surgery. Whatever the case, creating an emergency backup plan should be a part of every business’ annual tasks.
I recently experienced some health issues and ended up going in for an unexpected laparoscopic surgery to have my gallbladder removed. I am very thankful for our healthcare system and that I was able to get in so quickly, and I am recovering well. However, this experience has made me review the systems I have in place, both personally and for my business, to ensure that things are set in place to take care of my business, my clients, and my family should I be unavailable.
If this happens to you—don’t panic! Even if it feels like your whole life is coming undone in the moment—you can keep things moving forward by having an established backup plan in place. This will ensure that all of your clients’ needs are met even if something comes up on your end that might otherwise derail things entirely.
Having a backup plan in place is essential for any service-based business owner.
Not having a plan in place can be as financially devastating to your livelihood as not having health insurance. In fact, statistics show that only 35% of small businesses in Canada and 50% of small businesses in the United States will succeed beyond 5 years of operation. The reason why the majority of small businesses do not succeed more than 5 years is most often due to a lack of business planning, including having a backup or recovery plan.
Just because you don’t want bad things to happen doesn’t mean they won’t—and when they do, the right type of backup plan will help you get through it and back on your feet again. A solid backup plan allows you to make the most out of unfortunate circumstances instead of letting them take over your life and your business.
A backup plan is different from a business plan because it includes an actionable series of steps that are ready to go in case something happens that would prevent you from working with your clients for any reason (or at least for any extended period of time). Having these steps written out ahead of time gives you peace of mind so that if something does happen, you’ll be able to focus on getting well or taking care of whatever needs tending to, before even thinking about what will become of your business while you’re not working.
5 items to consider when developing your emergency backup plan.
Your “in case of emergency” backup plan should include the following items to keep your business running smoothly when “the worst happens.”
1. Select a trusted person
Choose a person who you can reach out to and have them implement or put into motion your action plan. This person needs to be someone who you trust with key information about your business, and who can be reliable to put into motion the key steps you have outlined to ensure that your clients and business are being looked after while you are out of commission. This person could be a spouse, partner, friend, accountability partner, colleague or member of your team.
2. Create a master contact list
Create a list of people that your trusted person will need to contact to inform them of what has happened, and what is being done to keep things running. This list should include you current clients, team members, and any other colleagues or partners that may need to be updated. You will want to ensure that your trusted person knows where this list is stored and how to access it prior to needing to use it. And, most importantly, keep this list updated on a regular basis so it always has the most up-to-date information.
3. Write down an action plan
Write down an action plan to provide to your trusted person. This action plan should include a list of the tasks that will need to be done once you have reached out to them and put your backup plan in motion. How will your clients be reached? What information will they need to provide to your clients? What tasks need to be done for your clients? Who will be responsible for completing those tasks and communicating with your clients? If you are a solopreneur with no team, do you have an accountability partner or colleague that can possibly help out if needed?
4. Create a master list of passwords
Create a master list of passwords and access to your accounts to give to your trusted person. This is especially important if you are temporarily unreachable so they can keep things running for you. Just like your master list of contacts, don’t forget to share how your trusted person can access this list. And, keep it up-dated on a regular basis.
5. Establish a long-term plan
If you are unable to work or return to work for longer than 2 weeks, establish a long-term plan. What will happen to your clients? To your business? Your priority needs to be taking care of yourself but you also have a responsibility to care for your clients and their businesses. Not everyone will wait for you to return to work so what contingency plan do you have in place?
A backup plan is essential to ensure that your service-based business can survive a crisis.
In an ideal scenario, you’ll never have to use it and won’t ever need to be out of commission. But in the event that something unexpected does happen, it’s best to be prepared so your business continues smoothly without causing financial hardship for you or anyone who depends on your income.
Once you’ve completed your emergency backup plan, make sure to store it in a safe place and to let your trusted person know how to access it. You never know when you’ll need to use it and there’s no use having a backup plan if it’s not accessible. Be sure to periodically review all parts of your backup plan, including your contact list, to make sure everything stays up-to-date and current. The last thing you want is to put all this effort into creating an emergency backup plan and then not know how to put it into action, or have out-dated information for your trusted person.
Do you have an emergency backup plan ready? If not, I encourage you to set aside some time and work through the 5 steps above so that you have something ready to implement should you ever need to. If you do have a backup plan, well done! And don’t forget to periodically review and update it, if needed.
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