We never think it will happen to us. We're entrepreneurs, after all, and somehow that makes us infallible. With little thought of a personal crisis and its impact on our small business, we delay preparing for what we believe to be a remote possibility.
And, when least expected, the unforeseen blows up what we plan for and work hard to achieve.
A personal crisis of a physical, emotional, or mental nature is difficult enough. Unfortunately, a personal crisis can boomerang and simultaneously create a business crisis. And, when your business is you, there are few people who can immediately step into and fill your shoes. Therefore, advanced consideration to a backup plan helps reduce the amount of damage done to your business.
It Will Never Happen To Me
...until it did.
I was preparing for a business move across country when a follow up phone call from my physician following a routine procedure set off alarms. She wanted to meet with my husband and I within the next day to discuss the results. I knew it wasn't good news.
The test results revealed early stage breast cancer. Needless to say, it wasn't something to be put off until I settled in my new location. With less than 3 weeks before the scheduled transfer, we moved quickly to make the necessary arrangements.
The business was the last thing on my mind. In fact, I didn't care what happened to my business at that moment. I knew, however, that once the crisis was resolved, I wanted to return to my business...and my income.
I'll spare you the details. Suffice it to say that was over 20 years ago. It did, however, teach me a valuable lesson - expect (and prepare) for the unexpected.
The Best Solution for a Personal Crisis
Regardless of the cause of a personal emergency, consider how answers to these questions can prepare you for the unexpected:
- Who can step into your shoes in the event of a personal crisis? Whether it's to postpone meetings or step in to complete projects already in play, identify trustworthy resources to keep your business running - even if you don't care what happens to the business in the moment.
- What information will they need to access?
- Does a confidentiality agreement need to be in place?
- Who needs access to bank accounts? Passwords? Contacts? Calendar?
- Who can be assigned to be your "point person"? When a personal crisis strikes, you don't want to be calling a list of people to help. Identify one individual to implement your pre-determined plan.
- What actions are included in the plan? You won't remember the essential details of your business when adversity strikes. Set up your plan in advance when your mind is clear and not flooded with emotions.
Fortunately, I have a trusted virtual assistant who has access to critical information such as documents, contacts, and my calendar. With one phone call, she can step in. Although she would not be able to perform the core services of Synnovatia, (although she is über smart) she can notify clients, postpone meetings, and respond to emails as needed to ensure the integrity of my business reputation remains intact.
A personal crisis can be physical as in the case of an accident or bitter diagnosis. It can also be emotional when it involves the death of a loved one or divorce. Regardless of the cause, as author, Chris Bradford says, "...hope for the best, prepare for the worst".