You shudder to even think about it. You have spent years – maybe decades – building up your business. Hundreds of your own dollars – if not thousands – to establish your audience.
And then you spend even more to convert them to paying customers. There’s infrastructure, overhead, marketing, inventory…all of these are absolutely key to your business and all of them require loads of time, money and energy.
Then disaster strikes. And your business is utterly crippled.
Now – quick: what do you think of when you hear the word “disaster?”
The word usually brings to mind weather events. Tornados, hurricanes, maybe a flood. And sure, all those things can wreak havoc on your business, just as they can on your personal life.
I mean – can you imagine what a flood can do to your boxes of receipts you keep for the Tax Man? And then you later get audited?? Talk about shudders.
But those disasters are obvious and usually covered by insurance. This article isn’t about natural disasters. It’s about the many other disasters that can strike your business.
There are more kinds that those on this list below. But today I want to cover the ones we likely aren’t prepared for, including:
- Computer data loss
- Mobile phone/contacts loss
- Loss of big client
- Loss of key staff
Let’s take them one by one and talk about how you keep any of these eventualities from taking your business down.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Before we get into what the solutions for these problems might be, I want you to make me a promise.
Don’t just read this article, think “yeah, I should do that!” and then never take action. You have to take these precautions now. Promise me? Promise yourself!
Let’s start with the obvious. The biggie. The cold fear you might have already felt in the past. That ice pick in your spine when you go to turn on your laptop, tablet, computer and it just won’t…turn…on.
Horrible scenarios rush through your brain.
“Oh no, all my invoices are in there.” And “Oh no, all my emails, passwords, documentation…everything is on this one machine!”
Now imagine how much better you’d feel if you knew that somewhere, you had backups. Better still, what if you had a complete duplicate of your entire hard computer?
There are many solutions that can help you do just that. While there are a bunch of free options available, I recommend you invest just a little bit of money here. These days, when so much of our work is conducted on our computer, your backup service can really be like taking insurance out on your entire business. Isn’t that worth spending a bit of money on?
The good news is that there are a lot of very affordable services and software out there. The paid options range from $50 to over a hundred dollars a year, depending on the amount of data you can back up, the speed of that back up, how automated it is, the encryption and security services, etc.
Rather than laundry list them out here, I’ll instead link you to a list of great options that PCMag.com put together last year. (Don’t worry, these solutions include Apple products, too.)
For even deeper research, you can also read this extensive article from Consumer Reports.
Mobile Phone/Smart Phone shutdown
I heard an interesting tidbit somewhere. (How’s that for super scientific notation? “Somewhere.”)
But it’s something worth thinking about and something that – though shocking – is completely easy to believe. I heard that our phones have become such an integral part of our lives that though it can take hours for us to realize we have left our wallet at home, it only takes on average 15 minutes for us to realize our phone is missing.
I buy that, don’t you? I know my phone is so much an extension of me it might as well be part of my hand.
So losing a phone is very much like losing a limb — a limb that has all your contacts, emails and these days – all your personal photos on it! A friend of mine once had her phone stolen and she had months’ worth of photos of her son’s first year of life on it. Gone. Poof. Awful!
There’s no reason for that to happen. None at all.
Again, just as there are many options available for your computer back up, both free and paid, I recommend you choose a paid option here. You’ll get more security, more data, more everything for even just a few dollars more.
Loads of them exist and you need to do research to figure out which solution is right for you. Here are a some links to get you started:
Pardon the creepy subhead but I wanted to make it clear that you aren’t just vulnerable to digital loss. Technology isn’t the only thing that can hurt your business.
When certain people make the decision to ‘leave you’…it can be just as catastrophic. You need to shore up in these areas as well.
Key Staff Leaving
Business owners, especially small business owners, need great employees. Many start ups hire friends, friends of friends or even family members. And if these people show loyalty and help you build your business from the ground up, you tend to lean on them heavily.
And these employees tend to stick around for years at a time because they feel important, they feel invested in the company and you likely are paying them a wage they like. But eventually, they will most likely move on. Could be 3 years, could be ten.
Maybe you’ll have some warning, maybe you won’t. Accidents suddenly happen, disagreements suddenly pop up. It’s not impossible that this cornerstone employee could suddenly, one day, not show up for work.
What would you do? What could you do? When that person leaves, all too often they take with them a wealth of information in their head. They may know the personal history of key clients. They could know patterns in your sales and finances that no one else knows. In short, as they say, they “know where all the bodies are buried.”
You can’t let this happen. It’s your responsibility (not theirs) to make sure they put to paper everything they know about your business. You need to make sure that they create documentation for all the key components of your business that they handle. Here are some ways to make sure that happens.
For one thing, this has to be as an important part of their job as anything else. Perhaps more important than anything else. So look at their weekly schedule, find out when they have a little ‘down time’ or time they are spending time doing non-essential work. Tell them from now on, those 1-2 hours are to be spent creating a binder that puts on paper all that invaluable information in their head.
IMPORTANT NOTE #2: Don’t scare them! Make sure they know that you want to keep them as long as they want to stay! You just need to be covered if disaster strikes and they fall ill, have an accident or just eventually decide to move on.
Buy them 2 binders and a 3-hole punch. As they create online documentation, have them print out 2 copies and immediately add them to the binder. One binder should live with them and one of them should be in your possession. This way they can consistently back up their binder and you can always have a hard copy of this invaluable content. In other words, you’re backing up the back up!
There’s a neat way to figure out exactly how and where you rely upon them on a day to day basis. Obviously, first just start with them. They’ll know best what areas they work on the most (accounting vs. customer service vs. inventory knowledge, etc.) But neither of you will know everything you rely upon this person for until you conduct something of a “fire drill.”
Tell them to take 2-3 days off, paid of course. Tell your other employees to take copious notes during those days. You want to find out where and when they encountered situations where they hit a roadblock , simply because that key employee wasn’t there to consult.
Then, when that employee returns, hand them the list of notes and ask them to add those missing sections to your back up binders.
Key Client Loss
This is the other big, bad non-digital loss. The loss of a key client. Entire ad agencies have taken a nose dive when their cornerstone customer decides to give their business to someone else. This is no one’s fault but their own.
I mean, do I really need to talk about eggs and baskets here?
I get that it can be tough to think about going out and finding new clients when your cornerstone clients keep you extremely busy. After all, keeping them happy is one of your biggest priorities so it makes sense to pour the lion’s share of your time on them?
Lion’s share, sure. But you must – absolutely must – carve out time to always be finding new clients.
Just like it’s dangerous to overly rely upon one employee to help run your business, it’s also overly dangerous to assume that this one key client will never leave you.
So you must constantly be marketing, marketing, marketing. Never pull your nets in, no matter how cushy your current client base feels. It can go away in an instant.
The comforting news is that this kind of backing up takes very little ongoing effort. Once you set up these marketing efforts, they can be automated and constantly filling your funnel for you, in the background.
There are many ways to automate your marketing. The most common, simple way is to constantly be building your email list. At the very least, you should be taking advantage of email marketing.
Whenever you have a visitor to your site or one of your social properties you need to put a hook in them by way of an email address.
You must institute an email list and an automated newsletter to constantly be warming up those leads. Read more about how to do that here.
But email marketing is just a start. You can go so much deeper and really cast your net wide. Here is a great grid from G2 Crowd that compares some of the best marketing automation software.
There. Have I scared you yet? Have you really taken this to heart? It can happen to you. Most likely it will.
Prepare yourself now…and thank me later.
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