Sunday, May 3, 2009

Outta play

With all this talk about swine flu and the mixed messages that are coming for public officials maybe it’s time to step back and have a look at the bigger picture here. What would happen if you really got sick and couldn’t work for say three weeks?

 

If you are employed then generally that isn’t a worry since sick leave is part of the benefit of being employed, however what happens when you own and operate a small business? If the business is dependent on you and you get sick then typically the whole business stops. Unfortunately, both you customers and competitors don’t, so you would probably spend extra time worrying about these even when you are sick rather than worrying about getting better.

 

Before you drive your car anywhere you generally know you have a functioning spare tire on board to cover unforeseen emergencies. It wouldn’t be much use to hit the road without one now would it? It is also too late to think about having a spare tire when you get a flat isn’t it? Preparation is the key but do you apply the same logic to your business?

 

If you were to get sick or be taken out of action for a few weeks what contingency plans do you have in place? What funds do you have in place to tide you over? Whom can you rely on to help you with the work that you can no longer do? You may have income protection insurance but have you taken steps to protect your income?

 

Prior to any personal outage you need to build a business support network, people whom you can trust to cover for you in a pinch. You want to start making those connections as soon as possible because you never know when you may need them. Next, you probably need to consider your documentation. Do you have your business and customer information recorded in such a way that it is easy for someone else to get up and running? You have have all the help in the world but if they have to keep coming back to you and asking you questions what good is that? Also, how much of a financial buffer do you have to tide you over any downturn? What do you actually need financially to pay all your business and keep the business operational?

 

The hope is that you will never have to implement your ‘emergency’ plan but that should never stop you from working on one and working on it on a regular basis. Developing contacts, documentation and buffer fund all take time so the sooner you start building these up the more valuable they will be in the any unforeseen circumstances.

 

When did Noah build the ark? Before the rain, before the rain.