What happens to your business if a disaster strikes? What if you were to suddenly become very sick or pass away? Does anyone else know who your clients are? Do you have a plan in place?
It may be morbid to think about, but your business needs a disaster plan.
After I had my daughter, life insurance became very important to me. My husband and I scheduled an appointment to meet with an agent, had physicals done, and signed up for life insurance for ourselves and our child. We wanted to make sure that we were prepared even in the most unfortunate scenario.
Your business also needs a backup plan for what happens if something happens to you.
It may make you uncomfortable to put together this plan; it may even seem unnecessary. However, it will probably take a maximum of two hours of your time, less if you already have an organized system in place, and can save your family and clients a lot of heartache and hassle. Best of all, it can be put together using two free resources that you’re probably already using in your business.
What is a disaster plan?
A disaster plan is a list of instructions and information that your appointed person can access should something happen to you.
This is not a legal document or procedure. This is a plan you would leave with a person who you trust to tie up loose ends or run your business in your absence.
When creating your disaster plan, you should think about what information someone would need to wrap up or take over your business. You may want to write standard operating procedures for how to run your business so someone can take over or you may decide that you want all operations to cease upon something happening to you.
Your disaster plan should include the following:
- A current list of clients and their contact information
- Payment schedule for said clients
- What duties you were performing for said clients
- Who and what entities need to be informed of your situation
- Your logins/passwords to your accounts
- Your banking information/payment account information
Why you should create a disaster plan
You can’t control what happens to you, but you can be organized. One of my favorite mottos is hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. I apply this advice to my personal life and my business.
When you work for an employer, they have a plan in place for informing clients or customers about unexpected situations. Most large companies have an entire department that handles things like this – Human Relations. In a traditional office, your workload would shift to another employee or your manager. There would likely be a Standard Operating Procedure for your duties.
But you’re not an employee, you’re an entrepreneur.
That means you need to have all of those steps covered so anyone could come in and notify clients quickly and easily. You don’t want your partner or family members scrambling to figure out your business when you aren’t there to answer any questions.
Creating a disaster plan puts a framework in place for the worst possible scenario. Having all of your items in one place will save your trusted person a lot of hassle and confusion when dealing with your affairs.
Setting up a disaster plan with two free tools
Setting up your disaster plan doesn’t need to cost you a thing. Here’s how you can put a plan together with two free tools you may already use in your business. (And if you don’t already use these tools, you should!)
You need LastPass for storing passwords, website logins, and account information. Once you have LastPass set up, you can share a folder with a trusted person so that they have easy and immediate access to your accounts and logins. Sign up for the service and create a folder called “Disaster Plan.” Add all of your relevant logins and passwords as sites and your account numbers and other sensitive information as secure notes. After you have everything in your folder, share it with your trusted person.
You need a premium account to automatically sync shared folders should you change login information. If you want to go with the free option, set a reminder to re-share the folder twice a year or when you change passwords.
An internet based file storage service is the best place to keep your records. I prefer Google Drive because I write all of my documents in Docs and compile spreadsheets in Sheets so everything is all in one place in Drive. Sharing Google Drive folders, files or documents is extremely easy.
Storing all of your clients’ folders on Google Drive ensures that someone can access your materials from anywhere. They do not need your computer to find a client’s files.
If you don’t already have a Google account, sign up for one. Create a “Disaster Plan” folder on Google Drive and add a spreadsheet with all of your current clients’ information including contact information, billing cycle dates, hourly or package rate, and typical duties. Add any relevant files and documents to the folder. If you have SOPs, add them too. Google Docs is a great place to write and store your business documents, especially if you’re collaborating with someone else. Once you have everything together, share this folder with your trusted person.
If you prefer to use Dropbox, you can create a folder, add all your files and share with your trusted person.
Being organized and prepared are trademarks of a successful entrepreneur. It’s worth it to take the time to put together a plan so that things will be taken care of should something happen to you.
Ready to create your disaster plan? Click here for my disaster plan checklist PDF and get to work!