Bus-proofing your business… because stuff happens

No one likes to think about worst-case scenarios; we all imagine that we will live an accident-free life and our business will run smoothly until we retire. However, just as we buy insurance while hoping we never need it, we should look at our business operations and imagine what would happen if we suddenly became incapacitated by injury or illness or if you got hit by the proverbial bus. Who would notify your clients, pay your bills, and put your business on pause? Does that person know who your clients are or how to log into your email account?

In addition to estate planning, we solopreneurs need to plan for the unlikely situation in which someone who isn’t familiar with our needs to step into our shoes. The following are thoughts on how to write up instructions for where a family member, trusted friend or colleague could find everything needed to put your business on pause or, in the worst case, close it down for you.

Fill out this checklist (click here for an unannotated version) and give a copy to two people who might be called upon to help in an emergency, keeping in mind that a trusted colleague or good friend may be more familiar with your business – and the issues of a solopreneur in general – than a family member.

Business Bus-Proofing Checklist

Checklist updated: [date]__________________

My business laptop password is _______________________

My password management app is __________________  and the password is  _____________________

You can find my current projects here:_____________________________________________________________________________________
[This is not a list of your current projects but a description of where you most frequently keep your pending work, such as listed on a white board, kept on your desk, or filed in a project management app.]

My clients’ contact information is in _______________________________________________________
[e.g., your accounting app, a CRM app, a file folder, a note-taking app]

You can find my calendar at ______________________________________________________________

You can find my email at ________________________________________________________________

My business accounting and invoicing are at __________________________________________________

My business checking and savings accounts are at ____________________________________________

My bookkeeper / accountant is _____________________________ and can be reached at _______________________

My lawyer is _____________________________ and can be reached at __________________________

Information on my employees or subcontractors can be found __________________________________
[e.g., in your accounting software]

The social media platforms / blogs I am active on are  _________________________________________

Online messages or posts that may be queued to go out in the future are in _______________________
[e.g., social media scheduler, email marketing service, blog]

My hard-copy emergency file / safe deposit box is at __________________________________________
[e.g., where you keep your passport, birth certificate, advance medical directive]

You can get into my office by _____________________________________________________________
[e.g., location of a spare key, access code to get into building]

Other information you should know: _______________________________________________________

3 comments on “Bus-proofing your business… because stuff happens

  1. Mary Ellen,

    I love a good bus-proofing plan!!

    I’ve really only thought about the importance of that protection when a project involves a bunch of independent folks contributing to a project. Not in terms of my own business continuity.

    This is a handy checklist, and really would make it possible for a colleague to step-in in an emergency.

    How often do you update yours? Annually seems about right to me.

    Thanks for another useful tool,

    Anne

  2. What a great idea to publish this, Mary Ellen. It brings up so much more than I think most of us would even think of. Kind of like our personal wills, and of course we should make this a living document so that we update when our ‘situation’ changes or put a note on the calendar to refresh.

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