This post isn’t going to be the funnest thing you’ve read all week or probably all year, but it covers a very important topic that should be considered sooner than later.
It’s about preparing your business and social media accounts for the inevitable – your sickness or death. While we’d all love to pretend that immortality beams its way through Facebook or possibly the newest facial mask at the local spa, it’s not the way life is. And that’s okay, life is real and the more we understand its fragility, the more we’ll appreciate it. And plan ahead for it.
This week, my phone rang and it was my father asking me to come help him because he’d fallen off the roof. He said he was okay, but needed my help. I had no idea what to expect as I drove over, but nothing could have prepared me for the scene when I arrived. It’s one of those surreal moments that I won’t ever forget. My father was severely injured, and although he was mentally in a great place, his body was not.
We spent the evening in the ER before he was rushed to another hospital a few hours away for surgery and more tests. I thank God he survived the fall, and didn’t die or paralyze himself.
But as we were sitting in the ER, I realized that someone is going to have to run his businesses, assist with his ordering, and that he won’t be able to stand or walk for sometime. This for a person who is extremely active and basically spends all his time driving back and forth between three businesses in three different towns in the western mountains of North Carolina.
As business owners, we spend our time building a business that makes money and runs efficiently, but rarely prepare for a sickness, an accident, or worse – death. And what about our social media accounts?
A boy I went to high school with passed away over 4 years ago, and every year on his birthday Facebook alerts me because his family still hasn’t been able to shut down his Facebook account. How sad!
But instead of being sad or getting caught up in the emotional side of this, we need to plan ahead – we need to have a solution for our businesses and social accounts, so our family/staff aren’t burdened and we can still generate income if it’s necessary.
You see, my father didn’t plan ahead, and that’s going to place even more stress on his recovery time because there will be pressure to get back to work and be healthy enough to participate. However, he is very blessed, has a wonderful staff who will jump in, and is loved by many people around him. It could be MUCH worse.
In my business, I planned for issues, but this event made me see how important it is that we’re purposeful in our planning ahead.
So here’s my action steps to consider and prepare your business for the inevitable.
1. Make your systems accessible for others to use and find
I’m a systems girl – loveeee them! But are these easily accessible to others, no. Are they easy to follow along for someone else, no. And that matters.
When I was living in Vietnam, it became imperative for me to be able to access my business systems online. As laptop after laptop was fried by the intense electrical outlets, I knew preparation was needed. So I began loading all my documents online. And when I launched ARCH, it was simple to migrate those systems to my remote team.
Systems are necessary for EVERY business. Without systems, a business owner and its staff waste a considerable amount of time because there are processes to everything we do.
But what’s most important, for the sake of this article topic, is that systems will allow your business to run with or without you. It may not be able to run 100% without you, but it will get you as close as close can be.
Systems give others a roadmap for what needs to be done and how, empowers those who take over by giving them the tools to be successful, and cuts back on unnecessary communication.
The last part to this is to make sure your systems are easily accessible to anyone else who needs them, AND that they’re compiled clearly so anyone can follow along.
For me, it’s a main document that resides above the rest of the files and folders with clear instructions on how to utilize the systems, and clarifies naming conventions.
2. Have a backup plan
A backup plan is one that backs up your plan or your systems.
It’s the bag an undercover agent stashed away in the event they need to pick up and leave everything. It’s your insurance (literally or figuratively).
Your backup plan will be a document with clear instructions on how to deal with your business and social accounts in the event something happens to you.
For me, since I have a bunch of systems in place that be taken on by someone in my agency, it’s simply writing out a master plan on how to deal with clients, when weekly meetings are, how to pay the staff, how to send invoices, etc.
It won’t be a quick document to compile, but it will be a HUGE relief in the event something happens, and instead of worrying about your business in the ER, you’ll be focused on yourself.
3. Train one person you trust to takeover
With the last two points to take into consideration, they won’t fully work without one person who can step in and take over where you left off.
That person doesn’t necessarily have to be someone who works for you – for many, it might be their spouse or another family member. Regardless, figure out who that person is in your life, speak with them, make sure they agree to be that person, and then make immediate plans to go over your backup plan with them.
If this person isn’t directly involved with your business – speak with someone who works for you (a senior associate), explain that you’ve put a backup plan together, and that this person would be taking your place in the event something happens.
When it comes to these types of situations, communication is our best friend – that and a solid backup plan.
By setting expectations and communicating your plans beforehand, there’s minimal to no authority issues or pushback.
4. Keep all online account information somewhere accessible
These days, we create new passwords constantly, and that can complicate backup plans and processes we have in place. It’s great for privacy, but as in the example of my friend who passed away, privacy can go overboard sometimes.
Would you want your social accounts tweeting out content or Instagram account to lay dormant in the event you passed away?
Long term management of our social and online property is one that isn’t discussed enough these days, but needs to be taken into account when considering plans for the future.
I have all my passwords in one place, but it’s online. I’ve been reminding myself to write those passwords in a book and hide it somewhere accessible, so it can be found easily if necessary. Plus, I haven’t shared passwords with my trusted person.
That needs to change immediately.
Everything that’s online is important, and we must think ahead to ensure it’s cared for properly.
5. Do a test run
We can plan all day and be super detailed, but who knows what’s actually going to happen when its time.
I’m a big fan of setting things into motion to test them out after something they’re put together. And this can and should be extended to backup plans.
Plan a day with your team, alert the person you trust, and completely walk away – see what happens. If your business is similar to mine, it will take a few days, but if its possible see what happens.
By giving the business a test run, you’ll be able to see where the holes in your plan are and what needs to be done to acclimate it.
While preparing for real life events aren’t exactly my specialty, I hope this will be of use to you – even if it’s just a reminder to plan ahead.
But, if I’ve missed a valuable step – please share! Let’s take care of one another.