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Making your business independant

Following on from my posts about identifying and protecting the essential elements of your business, another way to prepare for the unexpected is to reduce how much your business relies on you.

Here are some ways to reduce that reliance:

  • train someone else to do some of the tasks, even if they don’t do it every time some knowledge will help if the key person can’t do it
  • have some written procedures so someone else can ge the job done – it may be slower but it would be done. This also helps if you want to sell the business or hire a new person for the task.
  • have critical knowledge stored somewhere other than in your head – have a document with passwords & contact details where it can be accessed by limited people. For some of my clients, I prepare a document register so they can track versions – I usually add comments about who designed thdocument so the client can quickly arrange a change if I wasn’t available. It also saves me remembering the information myself so it’s a good plan anyway
  • identify back up people for critical tasks/roles
  • ensure any staff understand the entire business and functions of other staff, and preferably be able to do a couple of other people’s tasks if necessary
  • have a shared calendar for your team – if someone is then sick for example, any appointments and deadlines can be managed
  • be flexible as much as possible – a team member who can’t come to the office for a few weeks may still be able to do some tasks at home or online, or work part time or unusual hours
  • build relationships with professionals who can replace key skills – for example, I have relationships with other writters so in an emeregency my clients’ work could still be written even if I was unable to write myself

As part of your contingency preparations, there are a few related tings yo can do:

  • test how reliant your business is on specific people – find out how long the businesscan manage without someone, how skilled others are at filling in for the key person, how many people can be missing from your team before it is critical, and so on
  • plan some altered work practicesfor certain levels of staffing – for example, if a key person is sick for one or two days, everything continues but if they’re away for a week reduce client hours or produced items by 10% and if they’re away for a month, reduce by 50%. This would be particularly relevant during a prolonged event such as a pandemic or natural disaster if you have a team
  • establish policies about how much leave staff are entitled to and how they are paid for such leave, including any leave without pay or make up hour arrangements
  • have as much information and work available on a computer as possible so that remote access is an option and back ups are also easier
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