Plan for Continued Management of Business

What happens to your business if you suddenly do not show up one day and are unable to come to work for an extended period of time, such as a month or longer? Being prepared for an unexpected event may seem overwhelming, but according to the book, Being Prepared*, it can be easily broken down into two categories: things that happen to your stuff and things that happen to you. If something happens to your stuff, you call people—the IT consultant for computer problems or the disaster specialist for flooding, fire, etc. When something happens to you, however, a plan is necessary for the continued management of your business, particularly if you are the sole owner or sole employee. Being Prepared lists 5 practical principles that you can implement right away to put yourself and your business on track if you find yourself unexpectedly absent due to, for example, disability or incapacity from an unfortunate accident or illness.

  1. Define who will be involved and the roles each will play. Include a contact list with emails and telephone numbers, including those of your attorney and accountant.
  2. Enable your team by gathering together a manual that contains procedures necessary to run your business and serve your clients.
  3. Empower your people by giving them the appropriate background information and direction; and also the authority to pay bills and collect payments.
  4. Keep you manual in a safe place, but also in an available place so that it is accessible in an emergency.
  5. Inform your team that you have devised a plan and organized a manual in the unfortunate event that you are unable, due to incapacity, disability or death, to run your business. Inform them who the “go-to” person is—who is responsible for safekeeping the manual.

A few questions to ask yourself: Who will be responsible for determining what my obligations are that day? How will they know? Do they have access to my calendar and password? Who is someone I trust to act on my behalf? Should I consider leaving a “trail”—such as journal entries that track important client/customer matters that may be ongoing?

The degree to which your personal affairs and your business affairs are intertwined may determine whether you need a well-drafted power of attorney and additional documents that may assist your team with the ongoing management of your business should you become incapacitated.

*authors: Lloyd D. Cohen and Debra Hart Cohen, 2008.

Dan A. Penning