Two weeks ago my my Mom took my Dad to the ER with extreme abdominal pain. Long story short, he ended up needing emergency surgery and there were complications.
He almost died during the surgery.
Thankfully he pulled through things and was in ICU for a week.
He’s still in the hospital as of this day and it’s been a crazy up and down two weeks of infections, blood clots, you name it. He seems to be doing better, but we’re still in the touch and go phase.
Through all of this, my brother who is my dad’s business partner has been working hard keeping things afloat in the business.
A tough thing to do when he’s been responsible for doing the hands on service work and my dad handled the administrative stuff and job quoting.
This got me thinking about my own business.
As a solopreneur, I wear all the hats in my business and if something were to happen to me, where does that leave my business and all my clients?
No one else in my family know exactly what I do or what projects I’m working on.
I also just realized, my husband doesn’t even have access to my business bank account!
So I figured, now is the perfect time to get things in order for a (semi) smooth transition to keep things running (or at the very worst, tie things off) if something were to happen to me.
The time to do this is now, not after something catastrophic happens.
So here’s my list of things that you may have thought about (and those you may not have) prepping for in case shit happens.
Even if you are a sole proprietor and don’t want anyone else messing with your money, make sure you have another person added to your account that can sign checks for you and have access to your account in an emergency.
This should be a person you trust completely, even if they aren’t going to be the one to step in and help run your business if something were to happen to you.
Have a central location for all your account addresses and passwords. This includes, but is not limited to: any websites that you use frequently for your work, especially financial sites such as Paypal, Outright, Mint, Freshbooks, etc.
URLs for your hosting account and website management should be included.
Social media sites – that way someone can post an update that you’re not available for a time, but you’ll get back in touch with them when you can.
All your clients’ passwords to websites, hosting, domain registrations, any scripts that are running on their site, etc.
Don’t forget the access to your computer if you use an administrative password!
Keep copies of master passwords in an offline location as well. Pretty useless to keep the computer admin password locked away on the computer if they can’t access it!
If you are using any billing/invoicing software, either on your computer or online, be sure to include instructions on how to access it.
This should be kept up to date so whoever takes over for you will know if there are outstanding bills due or invoices that haven’t been paid.
If you have different billing terms for different clients be sure to document this so the person taking over for you will know that. Same goes for fees.
Keep an accurate list of open projects and what you’re working on. Not only will this help you and your scheduling, it will help the person who takes over for you know who to contact and what deliverables still need to be completed.
This can be done offline in a notebook or online using project management software, Google Drive or using an online notebook such as Evernote. What ever you choose, just be sure that you make note of login URLs and passwords in your password file.
5. Operations Manual
The dreaded operations manual is something that I’ve put off for years, but actually is something very valuable if someone needs to help take over things in your business for a while or even if you end up hiring a virtual assistant to help you in your business.
In it you’ll want to record all the main business operations you manage on a regular basis. Again, this can be offline in a binder or online. My suggestion – use a virtual tool such as Google Drive that way it can be accessed remotely if needed.
From getting a new client and setting up client folders, how you quote jobs & do the billing or your process on wrapping up projects when you’ve completed the work.
Having everything spelled out step by step will make it easy for someone to fill in for you. (Bonus – it also saves you time where you won’t have to think about the next step, you just follow your checklist or procedure you’ve already pre-written!)
If you have things that get billed on a recurring basis, make note of it so the person stepping in for you isn’t surprised by a bill or charge on your account.
6. Get a back up person on call in advance
All this is great, but useless unless you tell someone about your emergency plan ahead of time.
Line up someone that can step in and take over things for you if the case arises.
Prep them ahead of time, meet with them, walk them through where everything is such as your computer, your operations manual, who has access to your banking info, etc.
If they have questions, now is the time to get answers. Later, might be too late. I’m sure questions may arise when they jump into things, but the main bases have been covered.
OK, I’m sure there are many other things that you’ll need to account for, but those are the ones screaming at me that I need to get a handle on in my business ASAP!
If you can think of any others, please share in the comments below. And I pray that something doesn’t happen to you, but in case it does, you can rest easy knowing that your business will not crash and burn while you’re recovering.
My colleague, Carla Young, wrote a great post highlighting some other areas to consider planning for in case of an emergency. You can read that here: http://www.momeomagazine.com/expect-the-unexpected-how-to-prepare-your-business-for-the-worst-case-scenario/