OK, maybe the title is a bit over-dramatic and (as far as I know) there are no Zombie Apocalypses scheduled for any time soon. But it does bring up an interesting point. In our fast-paced world, life sometimes does get in the way. Loved ones get sick, natural disasters are not inconceivable and there is a chance the CEO of your business (YOU) will get ill, hurt or be out-of-commission at some point. If you are a work at home woman, there is a distinct possibility that your business is one hurricane/major illness/unforeseen issue away from disaster at all times.
Bottom line; when the crud hits the fan, do you have a “Plan B” in place?
Here are some ways to get one implemented:
I know of many people (I used to be one) that perpetually lived in the land of Fly by the Seat of My Pants. They chronically pushed the envelope and blew off deadlines until the very last moment, convincing others and themselves that they, “operate best under pressure.” That may be true, but one sure-fire way to get your business or yourself in a jam is to push these tasks or projects off to the last second, only to discover there is an issue in your life that will take you away from your business for days. Stay on top of tasks and strive to stay ahead of the deadlines, instead of having them breathing down your neck.
Have a Back-up Person.
As solopreneurs, many of us work at home women don’t have staff or team members that we can delegate tasks, projects or clients to when the going gets rough. In my Highly Streamlined and Effective Home Office, it’s just me and my dog, Fred. He’s cute, but can’t file, type or answer the phone for beans. As hard as it may be, find a backup person. Find another freelancer or service provider like yourself (preferably in your zip code) and strike a deal with them to be each other’s back-up if disaster should strike. You many never need to rely on each other for business support, but I promise the peace-of-mind having someone in place is priceless. Have the conversation now with your would-be support person, before you really need to. Nothing is worse than trying to wrack your brain for details and information with when you are eye-deep in a personal crisis.
Create Process Documents.
Now you have a support person in place, that’s great! But unless they know how you roll, their help may be pretty ineffective. This is the perfect time to create process documents on everything you do that is critical to the survival of your business. The idea is; if you have to step away from your business, your process documents will act as a guide or roadmap for those who are filling in for you in your absence. A written outline of duties, tasks, tips, passwords, and actions related to client care keeps things seamless flowing for your business (and the client) if changes should occur. Do this for upcoming projects as well.
Keep a Record of Important Information.
Always remember, Google Doc and Google Excel sheets are your friend. These are great places to house a list of business or client links and passwords because they can be quickly and securely shared in case of a sudden departure on your part. Sites like Basecamp are also great places to create “Writeboards” of links and passwords that can be quickly accessed by anyone who is authorized. I promise this will save you and your support person from having to scramble around to see, “who changed the password and what it now?” in the heat of a crisis. I also believe it’s not a bad idea for any business to keep a list of their vendors and service providers somewhere. It may be something that is saved and not readily available, but again “accessible” in a pinch. This is a great tool in case you are unavailable and your back-up person needs to pay a bill or contact someone for service.
Hopefully none of us will ever have to worry about major disasters or illnesses (knock on wood) but even mini disasters, like the whole family coming down with the flu, could potentially throw a monkey wrench into your business. Chances are disaster will never strike your business, but in case it does, you can rest easier knowing you have laid the ground work for others to step in and keep the ship sailing. If you have had to deal with an emergency and have some insight on this topic, I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences.
P.S. If a Zombie Apocalypse does occur, just remember that zombies can’t run uphill. ;)
Rebecca Flansburg proudly left a 30-year stint in the 9-5 world three years ago to work full-time (from home and on her own terms) as a virtual assistant, freelance writer, and blogger. Rebecca is the Cover Girl writer for HERLIFE Magazine Sacramento & Central Valley, is an avid blogger on her own veteran blog Franticmommy and is co-creator of FREElance FREEdom-a site dedicated to helping women discover life beyond the cubicle.