What would happen to your business if you were no longer here?
On the surface of it this sounds like a bit of a morbid question and it probably is, but sometimes we have to talk about things we don’t like to talk about, don’t we? For a while now I’ve been wondering just what would happen to my business interests if something were to unexpectedly happen to me, especially my online income.
At the moment I’m the sole breadwinner for my family. I have 2 different income streams, one online and one offline. When it comes to both businesses I’ve been asking myself if my wife knows enough about these businesses to be able to take over or at least appoint someone else to take over the running of the business if I were involved in some sort of accident for example, one that left me unable to communicate or perhaps even worse.
Anybody who runs a business will know just how many things we have to keep on top of as business owners and how many different balls we have to keep up in the air. We know that if one or two of those balls were to drop – even for a short period of time – then it wouldn’t take long for your customers or clients to go elsewhere and for the business to quickly turn to nothing. You will also understand just how much knowledge and experience you have gained over the years you have spent running a business and more specifically the field in which work.
Could someone pick up where you left off?
I remember when I first started working in the field of finance and one major thing that struck me was the amount of paperwork involved. I seemed to be required to document absolutely everything I was doing and saying which felt a little pointless and tedious to someone who had never worked in that manner before. I also had to stick regimentally to the systems of the company. I remember complaining to my boss one time about the amount of paperwork involved and asking him if there was really any need for it.
In his answer he asked me to explain to him exactly where I was up to with all of the clients I was working with. He wanted to know what they had said, what I had said, what they had agreed to, what financial product I had matched the client with etc. and he wanted me to tell him off the top of my head. After spending upwards of half an hour explaining everything from memory as he’d asked he said this, “Now let’s say that tomorrow morning you decided not to show up to work again or something happened to you, would I or someone else be able to gather and extract from your records all of the information you have just given to me and pick up where you left off?”. My answer was of course, yes. I knew that all the information I had given to my boss was well organised and documented in my records and it was also presented in the company’s preferred format so that they, or any new employee, would know exactly where to look to quickly get to the information needed to keep the clients happy.
I know that was a little bit of a long winded example but I’m sure you can see where I’m going with it. If something were to happen to you tomorrow, meaning that you were either no longer here or were not able to show someone, namely your partner, how to run your business, do they have enough information of how things work to be able to pick things up and continue running the business themselves? Or would the business collapse within a few weeks or months just because they have been left with no information or instruction? If you have a side line business online for example, does your partner have a good knowledge of how the business works, a list of companies that you work with, passwords, PayPal accounts etc.? Or would they be left to try and figure out the business for themselves? I’ve been wondering if it’s worth writing some sort of ‘How to keep the businesses going if I’m not around’ Manual just explaining what I do and how I do it.
I did say at the beginning of this post that this all might sound a little morbid but I really think it’s an important thing to give consideration too. I personally know that at this exact moment in time, if something were to happen to me, then my wife would have absolutely no idea of how to keep things going and keep the money coming in. I do however have faith that she could figure it out if she had enough of the right information and instruction to hand.
So the way I see it I have one of two options. I either sit down with her now and spend an age explaining just how I earn my money both online and offline and then hope that she doesn’t forget, or I spend some time writing a little manual that she can turn to if the worst were to happen and I were no longer around. At least I could keep a manual updated as income streams, contacts and working practices change.
Does your partner have a good understanding of how to run your business or sell it on if you were gone? Or would you be quite happy to rely on a life insurance payout and allow the business to die?