Can Your Small Business Survive an Emergency?
I just got back from an emergency trip to visit my 97-year-old Aunt. Last year at this time I would have had enormous difficulty taking a sudden trip to California for three days, but with proper planning over the past 12 months I was able to pull it off with very little disruption to my business.
You can't do the same things and expect different results
It used to be when I got sick, my business suffered. Or sometimes family and friends would call with an unexpected visit. Last summer, several friends came to visit. I desperately wanted to reconnect. However, I was in the middle of a major Wordpress installation and did not have the support systems or staff to manage even a few days off. So I resolved to change everything about my business.
Build Your Team
At some point your business is going to need to survive without you. Better to plan for that day today rather than in the midst of an emergency in the future. Start with hiring the best people you can find, and then pay them what they are worth! They will provide you with more intangible value for your business than what a salary can provide, so treat them well and watch your business grow.
I changed my small business by building a highly trusted network of marketing communication professionals, not just in the state of Hawaii, but in the mainland U.S. as well. I now work with highly qualified full-service marketing professionals on the east and west coast. This team is helping me manage work (and new business opportunities) across multiple time zones.
I also rely on collaborative, web-based software so all clients and team members have access to me and each other in the rare times where I need to travel.
As a small business owner, consider how you can take advantage of new systems and processes. A centralized accounting system will enable you (and your accountant) to enter expenses and pull financial reports from anywhere in the world.
I use Internet tethering on iPhone to access the Internet from anywhere. This keeps my business mobile. I admit, there have been more than a few times where I have caught up on paperwork, reviewed reports and updated client notes while sitting at a playground.
Getting web-based project tools also lets you be more effective at achieving your goals. The platforms I use the most are Basecamp by 37 Signals and Freshbooks. I also use Microsoft Outlook Web Access, Wordpress, AT&T's Office@Hand and HubSpot to make everything in my PR Communications firm run smoothly.
It's never too late to start a healthy eating and lifestyle regimen. Not too long ago I was in a doctor's office talking about feeling tired. The doctor said it was nothing out of the ordinary considering I had an active five-year-old and a full-time business. But I found I could boost my metabolism, and thus my energy, if I ate healthy and exercised. My new routine has worked wonders. I try to run three times a week and eat more high fiber, nutrient-rich foods, like grains, quinoa, cheese, tofu, broccoli and fish. I have had to wake up extra early to get in the extra exercise, but it has put my body on "West Coast time" and helped me work better with East Coast partners.
Unexpected things happen
I can’t tell you what crisis will affect your business in the next six months, I just know that one will. It’s the law of science and statistics. So start preparing today. In my next article I will talk about what a business can do to prepare for a public relations crisis and those events and behaviors that damage an organization's reputation.
In the meantime, if you'd like to start preparing your business now -- or maybe get help setting up some of these systems for your business -- I have a few consulting spots available. You can also ask me a question or leave me your thoughts in the Comments section below.