Having a Backup Plan in Place….

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For those of you who know me, or follow me on Facebook or Twitter may have seen a few updates in the past few weeks regarding my personal challenges.  My father passed away (though not unexpected it was quicker than we thought) February 5, 2011.  This event of course turned my focus from work and serving my clients to family.

Business at Redhead Business Solutions slowed to a crawl, client work stalled and the bare minimum tasks were handled, personal projects stopped, new client calls postponed.  My thoughts, focus nor brain function was anywhere near my business or what needed to be done for my clients.  Now that I’m back at it this week, this got me wondering what type of back up plan do I have in place should something happen to me, who could step in and take over my projects?  How would they know what to do?

Now while I have processes and documents scattered online that give me easy access to what I need to do everyday, it works for me because I am the one who knows where everything is and how to access it all, but what if…..

God Forbid, but what if something unexpectant happens to me and my clients all of a sudden are left high and dry for their business support and projects?  I don’t have any documentation shared with ANYONE on how to contact my key clients, nor do I have an overview of what’s going on within my business.  This has become abundantly clear to me in light of what has happened over the past few weeks on how important it is to share certain details with a trusted colleague, spouse or friend as well as clients.

In the next few weeks this is my plan and my recommendation for anyone who runs a solo practice:

Create an “In Case of Emergency” Document/File: You may have heard of the idea to create a contact in your phone contacts called I.C.E (In Case of Emergency) which has the number or numbers of who emergency personnel should contact.  So this got me thinking why not create an “In Case of Emergency” folder or file on your computer and online contain any key information someone may need to follow up with your clients.  With in this document you should have…

  • Project & Client Vital Stats: Have an updated documents with details about current clients and how to contact them, so someone other than you could contact your clients.  While I’m big on having everything online, this would be one document worth printing out and letting your friends, spouse or partner know where to find it.  At least they could then get that to someone to contact your clients.  Let a few key people know how to find this information online (great solution – use Google Docs and share it)
  • Documentation on What You Do Everyday: Everyone and I mean everyone needs to have a process document.  This covers everything about your business and how you do things.  Yes, it seems silly when it’s only you as the main show, but what if you can’t explain something to someone, have it written down somewhere gives your support circle the opportunity to step in and cover for you.  What should you cover in this document – everything you do everyday, once a month, once a quarter, once a year.  Whatever you do, write it down and share how you do it.  I have found the simplest way to do this is create one ongoing document and each time you do something new add a quick process on who you do it to this document.  It doesn’t have to look pretty, but it does have to be thorough.

    If you work with a Virtual Assistant, make it part of their job to document everything they do for you and share it with you so you can access all of the details when you need to.  (Note to self, this is something I need to get better at, hear me clients…LOL!)

  • Where’s the Money: Having documentation on where money is and how someone could access it is a good idea since you never know when you might not be able to access your funds, but need someone to do it for you.  Of course sharing these details can be risky and my recommendation is to only share it with someone you COMPLETELY trust.  You don’t need to share the details with anyone, but having the details documented and available is a good idea.
  • Other People to Contact: While contacting your clients is of course incredibly important, depending on your situation it maybe important to contact other people, having a list and when to contact them is a good idea.

It’s likely that I’ve missed some key information here, but the way I look at it if I’ve got 80 to 90% covered it’s better than not having anything covered.  So what about you, have you thought about creating an I.C.E document?  If so what did you include in yours?  Please share below in the comments.