Are you a business owner or entrepreneur? Do you have a business plan? Have you documented your processes and procedures? How about backups and a disaster recovery plan? Even if you’re a one-person shop operating out of a home office, these are issues that anyone who is running a business (either brick and mortar or online) needs to address. Because, what if something did happen to you and you needed someone to step in and run your business for you?
Processes, Policies & Procedures
Let’s face it, lots of small business owners are one person shops. Even those who are lucky enough to have employees or outsource work (to consultants, interns, freelancers, vendors, family members etc.) are probably still responsible for the vast majority of operations.
Successful businesses have plans. They have strategies. They have documented processes, policies and procedures. They have contingency plans. As a small business owner, we still need all of these things to be successful. We need to operate as a business even if we’re a one-person operation.
Documentation & Backups
If you’re running a home-based business, you probably have a home office. When I look around my office, I have what I need to access on a daily basis close at hand. I also have file cabinets organized with folders for my clients, my vendors and all of the documentation that I have needed or may need to run my business. (The majority of this is also in digital format on my computer, backed up to DVDs or external hard drives and backed up off-site.)
Checklist of Information to Run Your Business
Here’s a sample checklist of the types of information that someone would need to run your business (in no particular order of importance).
- Backups: How often do you backup? How and when do your backup your website? Where do you keep your backups?
- WordPress: What’s your username and admin password? How do you access your site?
- FTP (File Transfer Protocol): Do you use a program like Filezilla to transfer data to your website? What is the FTP logon information (host name, protocol, encryption, logon type, username and password)?
- Domain Registrar: Where is your domain name registered? What username, password and email address do you use to access your account?
- Website Host: What vendor do you use for hosting? How do you contact them if there’s a problem. What username, password and email address do you use to access your account?
- Social Networking Sites: What are your primary sources of referral traffic? If you actively participate on several sites, which ones would you consider vital to your online presence? If you assigned someone responsibility to maintain a presence for you, what username, password and email address would they use?
- Blog Posts: If you publish articles on a regular basis, do you have posts drafted? Do you have guest bloggers who could submit posts? Would your blog wither and die if you were absent for a long period of time?
- RSS Feeds: Do you use Feedburner? What’s the URL of your feed, your email address and password?
- Article Submissions: When you hit that publish button on WordPress, what happens? Does a tweet automatically go out? Are your LinkedIn and Facebook accounts automatically updated? Do you have a Facebook page as well as a personal account? Are they automatically updated too?
- Twitterfeed, Hootsuite (and other tools): Where are all those tweets coming from? If someone is stepping in for you, make it easy for them to know what’s going on.
- Social Networking Groups: Do you manage a group on any of the social networking sites that you’re active on? Is there someone who could assume the responsibility for you if only temporarily?
- Clients: Do you have clients who you are regularly in contact with? Should they be notified that you’ll be away? Where is their contact information? Do you have clients who are depending upon you to be backing up or monitoring their sites?
- Current Projects: Do you currently have any projects that need to be addressed within a specific time frame? What immediate steps should be taken to safeguard your businesss?
I hope this gets you motivated to take an inventory of your business. If you suddenly found yourself out of commission, could someone easily step in and cover for you? Would you have a business to come back to? This list certainly isn’t all inclusive. What would you add? What advice could you offer to someone who’s idea of documentation is a pile of post-it notes in a shoebox?