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How a contingency plan will help your business survive without you

As a business owner, you’ll understand the importance of business planning. You’ve probably written or refreshed your business plan this year, in fact. But does your business planning contain any preparation for those times when the business might need to run without you?

In a previous Henchards survey, 77% of business owners said they had no contingency plans for running the company if they were absent for a period of time. Think about it: if illness or family issues meant you had to take a month, or two, or three away from the business, are you confident it could carry on without you? For many business owners, the answer is no, and yet few take steps to remedy this.

Contingency planning isn’t just about fire, floods and theft

A good contingency plan is a cumulative process of improvements and procedures put in place to help minimise risks of disruption and ensure your business can keep operating. The obvious scenarios that always spring to mind are things like a fire, burglary or major technical failure. (In a separate article I will take a deeper look at business continuity and disaster recovery.) What’s less obvious is the risk of the owner not being around.

One client I work with, a husband and wife team, have recently asked for help with their contingency plan, including what would happen if they weren’t around for a period of time. We are looking at simple measures such as:

  • assessing what is likely to need attention as opposed to listing every eventuality
  • appointing someone to ‘step up’ and take the lead in the event of your absence – including authority to keep the business going, making bill payments for example
  • ensuring access to critical systems and information for those who’ll need it
  • appointing additional key holders and alarm respondents
  • agreeing who will liaise with key clients, suppliers and business partners

Without such a plan, any period of extended illness or absence could have a serious impact on the health of the business. Contingency planning is something I’d advise all business owners to consider.

Planning for a more relaxing holiday

The great thing about preparing for an unplanned absence is that it can make you feel more comfortable taking planned breaks away from the business. This is certainly something the majority of business owners need a little help with. In the same Henchards survey, only 31% of business owners said they took holiday with confidence that the business would run well while they were away. A further 31% either took no holiday or worked while they were away.

With contingency plans and procedures in place, you can begin to make your business less dependent on you, and feel much more confident when taking a few days away with your loved ones. Then you’re well on the way to the business being able to generate income and wealth without you being tied to it every day of the week.

At Henchards, we’re here to help you start or improve your contingency planning, including making sure the business can function when you’re not there. To find out more, please get in touch.

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