Steve Jobs had a quote “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” Your business must have a plan that works in every aspect, during the good times, the bad times, and the crisis times. This blog post is about designing for the crisis times.
Last week I had the humbling experience of witnessing the passing of my wonderful Aunt. In the midst of my grieving, I also had the responsibility of creating the funeral arrangements on behalf of my cousins. My Aunt had not made any preparations nor left a note with her wishes. I had to figure out what she would have wanted, what did the family want, and then rustle up a plan that could be implemented quickly. We only had a couple of days left. Fortunately, it was all in place before she passed.
Conversely when my mother passed away a couple of years ago, she had already set in motion her arrangements along with having paid for it. My two sisters and I were able to be at our Mother’s bedside in her final days as daughters, not worrying about the business aspect. When she passed, all we had to do was make a call that triggered the well-orchestrated plan my mother had created months in advance. No stress, no arguments, no worries except to grieve. What has this got to do with this business blog you ask? Everything. Because the same plans are needed for your business when you are gone? Who is left figuring out what they should do with the business?
Accidents can happen in a moment. Sickness can beset us without any warning. One could get a bad case of the flu and be unable to even think about that appointment made for tomorrow. Or who is going to open the shop? What about that workshop that was scheduled in two days. Who is going to tell your clients you are not showing up? If you have a partner, then things might not be a total disaster. But if you are a solopreneur there is no one to manage your business while you are out sick. Worse, if you died, is anyone designated to tie up all the loose ends of your business?
No one likes to think about these things, but life happens, and death happens. As responsible business people we need to have documents and plans in place to help our partners or family members manage our business for us.
Here are some considerations:
#1 A list of all the programs you have purchased for your business. Which should be cancelled or continued? Where can they find the passwords? Is your business calendar accessibly so they can contact your clients that you had appointments scheduled with?
#2 Who to contact if you have a lease or own a shop? What about staff members contact information?
#3 If your business is a corporation or LLC, where can your tax id be found? Your tax accountant?
#4 Is your business something that can be sold by your family? Have some notes that can assist them in the research. Depending on the size of the sales do you have a written business valuation?
#5 If you have a partner, is there a buy/sell agreement in place?
Those are a lot of questions to think about. The last thing your loved ones need to be worrying about is winding down your business stressing over how to figure out how to do that. So, do them a favor. Take an afternoon and write down the answers to those five questions. Pick someone to tell them about the plan, where to find it and what you want done.
My Mom had told us that she had pre-planned and paid for her funeral arrangements. We knew exactly what she wanted. We sisters all worked together to support her wishes. She allowed us to be with her in her final days without stress or worry. My aunt on the other hand, had not made any plans. Her children who lived in Europe, were not familiar with U.S. customs and without me would have struggled to put a plan together quickly. Fortunately, having had my Mom’s experience I was able to take charge and make their grieving a little easier. So, show your family how much you love them, write that plan today. While you at it, it wouldn’t hurt to write down your personal needs message to your loved ones. We saw what happened in Florida on Valentines Day. Things can happen at any age.
Steve Jobs knew what his “time” clock was. He worked with his team for the necessary transition. He also created new apple products that could be built and used long after his demise. We don’t always have the knowledge of how much time we have.
I hope this message gives you the courage to write that plan now. Then you can relax and focus on growing your business confident in the knowledge that “just in case”, your business will transition the way you want it. Your loved ones or partner will thank you for it.