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Could Your Business Survive if Something Happened to You? – Keep Up With The Web – Sherryl Perry

Could Your Business Survive if Something Happened to You?

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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?

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Published by Sherryl Perry

Welcome! If you're looking for help building an Internet presence that fits your needs and works for you, you're in the right place. I blog common sense articles about WordPress, social media and SEO. My goal is to help small business owners and entrepreneurs understand their core business. Together, we can develop and implement business strategies that make sense to you.

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99 Comments

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  1. Wow. I’m a work at home mom and I’ve been doing my best to write down passwords and usernames but I don’t have all of this info written down. Some of it I don’t need yet but hopefully my business will grow. Thanks. I’m glad I found this now.

    1. Eva,
      It is easiest to start writing things down now than to try to catch up with it after you’ve been in business for a while. One habit that I formed early on was to keep a contact file in my email program for work related info. For example, I have a contact for WordPress, another for my website host and one for my domain name registrar. That way, I can easily access it and back it up. Good luck with your business!

    1. Exactly Bruce. If we are in this for the long term, even sole proprietors and entrepreneurs need to have contingency plans just as any business would. Thanks for taking the time to join the discussioin.

  2. The cloud… I know stories of a guy who always made his backups and stored on multiple external hard disks. After a fire accident all his data was lost. If you store your data on a virtual cloud you never (almost 100% sure) lose your precious data.

    1. The cloud is definitely an option. I pay slightly more for my website hosting and my hosting vendor maintains off-site backups for me. Thanks for mentioning this. I really should have included it in my post!

  3. This is a good reminder for those business owners and co owners who take a big role to the business. We should be reminded that we have to prepare not only ourselves but also our business in the future events.

  4. I agree James. I think as a solpreneur, it’s important that we realize that we run some of the same risks as big businesses. It’s important to have contingency plans especially if we depend on our business for the future.

  5. I agree that training is important. I really believe in documentation too. Not only is it important if someone else is going to be performing the task but many times I’ve had to pull out documentation to repeat a task that I’ve forgotten how to do. 🙂

  6. Depending on the business type, it could survive without me. But i doubt any of us run a business like that, and we just have to do the best with what we can, though expanding a little and thinking about the future wouldn’t be that bad. A safety net is always welcome.

    1. If I was totally out of the picture, this blog would probably end at this point but if I knew that I was going to be away temporarily, I’m reaching the point where I may be able to keep enough going here that I’d have something to come back to. A big piece for me is having the documentation including passwords and processes that I could pass on to someone or access from another location. I agree – a safety net is always welcome.

  7. Hello Sherryl

    As I start my journey on online business this year I really find your post very useful. I was looking for a good tips and advice on how to become more productive and effective this year. Knowing all of these wonderful strategy and business planning can surely help me become successful in my journey. I like to read more of your wonderful insight and business views that will be a good help to me.

    J.M

    1. Hi Jac,
      Thanks for letting me know that you found my article helpful. I think it’s so much easier to start documenting your processes and procedures when you’re first getting started than to start playing catch-up with an existing business. Good luck with your business!

  8. Great post. I think most small business owners operate on a crisis to a crisis basis and just don’t make the time to think long term. Maybe this is why big business is winning. We’ve all been trained in school to work within a business and told it’s all about being busy. We just don’t have the skills to think big and project into the future. I couldn’t agree with the business survival plan more.

    1. Thanks Mark. My background is Information Technology and in addition to disaster recovery plans, I usually found myself responsible for helping departments document processes. To be successful, small businesses (including sole proprietors and entrepreneurs) need to treat their business as if it were big. In the long run, having your processes documented definitely pays off.

  9. Hi Sherryl
    I want to start a new business. This blog is very helpful for me. I will try to follow these instruction. Process, policies and procedure is the main thing to continue the business well.
    thanks,

    1. Hi Jac,
      Good luck with your new business. Documentation can be time consuming while you’re in the process but it’s not as time consuming as scrambling for an answer or trying to duplicate a process. Let me know if you need help. I may have written an article on something that you’re looking for or if not I may be able to point you in the right direction.

  10. Your article is spot on Sherryl

    good angle of seeing this.. i never thought about this before and now that i;m doing it it’s kind of scary. For sure i will think alot about what u said up there..
    thanks for sharing this

    ~alex

    1. Hi Alex,
      I’m always pleased to learn that one of my articles got someone thinking. The big picture can be scary but if you get started and tackle it in bits and pieces, I think you’ll get a sense of satisfaction from this. I find peace in knowing that I’ve taken steps to preserve my hard work.

  11. True Sherryl, you can’t always cover all the bases but is important to learn something from each experience, good or bad 🙂

    Michael

    1. Michael, When my Thesis WordPress theme suddenly “broke” recently, I learned that I would have saved a lot of time if I had all my design settings written in a single document instead of scattered entries in an Excel spreadsheet. 🙂

  12. A business can be ruined with only one minor mistake. When I started blogging and building websites I became successful amazingly fast and I made it as my main job but everything changed with one PayPal transaction, when I was selling my blog to buy a bigger website. The big mistake what I made is that I wasn’t aware of the PayPal refund policy and I lost all my work which totally demoralized me. I stopped blogging for about 8 months but now I’ve come over it and I’m back on track. I’ll always do a small research before I do something.

    1. Michael,
      It’s unfortunate that happened to you. I’m sure you took steps to make the process as smooth as possible but it can be very difficult to “cover all the bases” when we’re in areas that are outside of our expertise. This is why it’s so important that there are bloggers who share their experiences so that we can all learn from each other. Thank you for sharing your experience with us.

  13. Hi, Sherryl.

    You always come up with eye-opening help that could only come from expensive business consultants and advisers. It is not often that we can come up with an article such as this online. Thanks!

    You are quite right, we do need to take stock of everything about our business so it will be easier for us to leave it into the capable hands of someone when we get sick or need to be away for a long period of time. I may have done some of the things you mentioned in your checklist, but I admit of being amiss with some items as well. So, I am very thankful for this.

    1. Hi Wes,
      Thanks for always letting me know when you find my posts helpful. Other people have told me that they don’t see this topic discussed often. I think the risk of writing about topics like business contingency plans is that they can come off as a bit dry and boring. I believe that if I have an idea of a post that can add value, I should address it. From my IT background, all this process and procedure “stuff” is second nature but I know it’s not on everyone’s radar screens.

  14. One of my biggest fears is the continuation of my business if something happens to me. Not only for the sake of my clients, but for the retained income for my family. I have a list of important factors for my business, but no matter how prepared I think I am it comes down to whomever takes over during my absence. I hope some day the kids will take over…here’s hoping I have everything in order.

    1. Good luck Kat. All we can do is try to be prepared. I ran into a glitch with my site over the weekend that threw me for a loop. My WordPress theme suddenly “broke” and even though I have backups, neither restoring my SQL database nor my entire site fixed it. (I still don’t understand why a restore didn’t work but it didn’t.) I finally found the solution on a support forum and was able to recreate my theme settings but meanwhile my site was illegible for about 28 hours. In the scheme of things, that’s relatively minor but it still was a wakeup call that no matter how prepared I thought I was, it’s awfully easy to miss something.

  15. An interesting article Sherryl. I started my business a few years back and have all the IT bits ad bobs covered re backup etc although it is not until you system fails that you really appreciate how much you rely on your PC and / or laptop. As well as Back Up a good Disaster Recovery procedure is no bad thing.

    1. Having a disaster recovery plan could be a post in itself Jim. After I wrote this article, a few people contacted me to tell me they hadn’t backed up in months and one person admitted to a year. Maybe I should write a followup post sometime in the future. Thanks for mentioning the next step.

    2. I am a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland and our Institute strongly recommends that everyone has a fellow Institute Member who they can “call on” should there be a sudden illness and work cannot be carried out for a client. This is obviously a reciprocal relationship.

  16. I keep backups both online and my local pc stuff. I have some offline records, but honestly I doubt anyone would be able to figure it out. Some of my offline hand written notes are a little out of date. Updating them would take hours and maybe even days to write step by step instructions. Even then I am not sure anyone would figure it all out. If something happened it would pretty much be the end once the next payment cycle was due for the paid ones. The others would most likely just sit there in cyber space.

    1. Hi Ray,
      It sounds like you have a lot in place already. I can relate to thinking it could be the end of your business if something happened to you but on the other hand, what if you were only going to be away temporarily due to health or family issues and wanted/needed your business to still be there when you came back? In that scenario, someone could help you if you had written steps in place that they could follow. Just a thought. It all depends on what your business is. I admit myself that one of my important documents needs some brushing off and updating too.

  17. Hi, Sherryl.
    I agree with you. We should have prepared ourselves, in case the worst happened to us so that the business won’t be affected, or at least, will be able to survive.

    1. Hi Jake,
      It doesn’t take long to lose customers or blog readers. I know if I suddenly found myself not able to blog, I would still want to maintain some sort of presence to keep my brand alive. It would be even more important to have a good plan if I were filling order on a daily basis. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  18. Wow, what a downer of an article title! 🙁
    Also my favorite phrase to emerge from the past decade might just be “brick and mortar”, used to refer to buildings that sell things (obviously, LOL).

    1. Hi Gregory,
      I try my best to write titles for my articles that will get people to actually read them. 🙂 Whether our businesses are “brick and mortar” or “virtual”, it’s still pretty scary to think of what would happen if we don’t plan for the possibility of indisposed because we were “hit by a bus”.

  19. You have given me a food for thought! I do have some handsome savings of my previous jobs, and now working full time form home, got a 6 year old kid. My wife assist me in my home based business, but i don’t think she can manage it alone. Got to teach her now! Thank you!

    1. Hi Grant,
      Any steps you take towards documenting your business could only benefit you in the future. Your wife would probably find peace in mind knowing that if she needed to, she could help keep your business afloat if you needed her. Thanks for joining the conversation.

  20. This is a great list, Sherryl and an important reminder. I have all my passwords & id’s in a notebook, but it’s not very organized. I think it would take someone a while to figure out what’s what. I need to fix that (and I like that it’s not a daunting task!)

    I used to be good about backing up (pretty much every day), now I’m diligent. a few weeks ago my computer died and I had not backed up the day before. arg! New computer w/o some of my old data and now I’m a back up maniac! 🙂

    I’m bookmarking this post. I think it’s a good reference piece. Thanks Sherryl!

    Heidi & Atticus

    1. Hi Heidi & Atticus,
      That’s great that you have all of your passwords & id’s written down. It does make me wonder what you would do if something were to happen to your notebook. I prefer keeping everything in a digital format so that if something were to happen to my home office, I’d have everything off-site. Actually, my husband manages his passwords in the same way. Now that I’m thinking of this, we should probably scan it as PDFs and store it offsite. He would be completely lost without that information. Thanks for letting me know that you found this article helpful.

  21. You’re title drove me here. It made me think…a lot. This topic never came in my mind till now. I’ll remember all your tips and maybe I’ll get a partner as needed.Thanks!

    1. Thanks for letting me know that my title worked! I’m glad I got you thinking about this. It may take a while to create all the documentation you need but it will be well worth your time and effort. Thanks for dropping by and joining the conversation.

  22. LOL, I have never thought before what will happen not only to my business but also to my family if something happens with me.. I avoid thinking about that but you are right – everybody has to!!!

  23. To be honest, I haven’t thought about this well enough. Shame on me.

    Even though this doesn’t have to be something as serious as illness, sometimes we would like a longer vacation. The reason fr longer absence is not the issue.

    Excellent point.

    1. That’s true Ana. Being able to have someone fill in while I took a long vacation sounds wonderful! Regardless of the reason, creating this documentation ahead of time and keeping it updated on an ongoing basis would certainly pay off in the long run. I hate scrambling for info. It’s so nice to have it there when I look for it.

  24. I like the checklist that you have shared. I think that ‘backup’ is the most important thing. We should backup all the data that we need because we never know when can a hard drive crash and when can we lose all our valuable data. Losing data is really frustrating.

    1. Hi Mike,
      It’s really important to keep copies of important backups offsite as well. I should have mentioned using off-site storage like Google Docs to keep your data safe. Even family photos can be scanned and stored offline.

  25. You’re a systems ladies Sherryl… I love it! I do have to up my backups others thankfully I document everything I do in the event I had to do it all over again. Let’s hope that never happens! But at least someone could just review my documentations and hopefully (cross-fingers) follow along and replicate the steps. 😉

    Thanks for list. I think it’s time to revisit mine to make sure I didn’t miss anything.

    Ciao!

    1. Hi fellow systems lady! I was pretty sure that you’d have systems and documentation in place to safeguard your business. Both of us work too hard to risk having everything fall apart if we suddenly had a family emergency to deal with.

  26. Hi Sherryl Perry,
    I always found your post very informative.You always give great ideas and messages in your post.Thanks for sharing the checklist of information to run the business.

    1. Hi Pete,
      Thanks for letting me know that you find my blog informative. There are so many blogs to choose from, I try to spin my posts around the business side of blogging. I figure the majority of us are either blogging to drive traffic to a website or to derive some sort of income from the blog itself.

  27. Hey Sherryl,

    Great article, I’ve never thought about what would happen to my business if something was to ever happen to me. If I was to take an inventory of my business I would have just about everyting on your checklist.

    If I could add something it would be social bookmarking sites and web 2.0 properties. This is just off the top of my head right now, but I know there would be even more if took my time to consider everything. Thanks for sharing, definitely gives me something to think about.

    1. Hi Melony,
      Thanks for adding social bookmarking sites and Web 2.0. I agree that our lists what would need to be done and how to accomplish it should be part of any contingency plan. Prioitizing our lists are important too.

  28. There is so much value in this post.

    As someone who hasn’t backed up his websites for months; I am quickly running backups across all of my sites.

    As someone who earns his living online, I actually feel quite silly for not backing up more!

  29. Hi Sherryl,

    you always have the best lists and reminders of what I should be doing… Generally, I am a very organized person until the artist in me makes a mess and I have to reorganize everything. There are a lot of things I need to do more regularly, esp. the back up. My mac has the time machine system and it reminds me to plug in my external drive -last time was yesterday it said that I haven’t used it in 435 days, oops!
    Thanks for the valuable tips,

    Franziska San Pedro
    The Abstract Impressionist Artress

    1. Yikes Franziska! 435 days? I’m a backup junkie. The way I look at it is how much work can I afford to lose. I hope you’re backing up your blog more often or hosting with a website vendor who backs up for you. I should probably take a lesson from you and be a little less compulsive about processes and procedures and let my inner artist run free more often. Thanks for dropping by! Maybe we can remind each other to use both sides of our brains. 🙂

      1. that sounds like an idea!
        Everything else (wordpress, blog, etc…) is backed up just not the time machine because the hard-drive is in a drawer somewhere in a closet out of reach and I am too lazy to get it. Solution: put it on my desk!
        Thanks Sherryl 🙂

  30. Great checklist – succession planning isn’t something I have given a great deal of thought to, but I guess maybe it’s time I do so. After all, if i win the lottery, where does that leave my clients?

  31. Sherry, the truth is that my online business can’t survive with me around, let alone not around. lol It’s not really self sustaining other than Adsense, and that’s not enough money to pay my bills. I try to make sure I purchase my domain name way in advance, but hosting is another issue. I just might have to have it set up to automatically take the money one of these days.

    1. Mitch,
      Your business will probably grow as you continue building awareness. You’re taking a lot of steps in the right direction. I immediately recognized your profile pic and when I checked, I’m already following you on Twitter. You may suddenly find yourself with a lot more traffic and different revenue streams. I think it’s easy to sometimes get discouraged especially for those of us who find ourselves working long hours alone. That’s where our online communities come in. As for domain renewals and web hosting, I have mine setup for auto-renew. Thanks for dropping by and hang in there!

  32. What a great post–a service to those of us who avoid this task, not just for business but for personal. (My husband doesn’t know the passwords to our key accounts and sites, and I’m always saying I need to prepare info for him…) Love that you are getting us organized. Really, this would be good for me, too. Half the time I’m searching for passwords because I get confused. I’d like to experience the peace of mind even when I’m around, not just if something happens to me!

    What I will use and what I would recommend is a three-ring notebook, because you can add info and take things out in order to update.

    Judy Stone-Goldman
    The Reflective Writer

    1. A three-ring notebook is a great suggestion Judy. I have at least got my husband in the habit of writing his passwords down in a small spiral notebook but that’s as far as I’ve got him. Eventually, I hope to win him over more. He is always either asking me if I have some information or expressing surprise that I do.

      I write a lot down for my own benefit too. The older I get, the more apt I am to forget! 🙂 Thanks for letting me know that you liked this post. It can be a boring topic but from the comments, it seems like everyone is taking it as a friendly gentle nudge.

      1. I think the word “boring” is a stand-in for lots of attitudes, and that no matter the topic, if it’s relevant to people’s needs, it won’t be called boring. A long time ago, one of the university courses I taught required a rather dry lecture involving statistics and test standardizations. I always was worried it would be the longest hour of the year! But students knew the information was applicable, and they sustained their attention in a positive way. We knew it wasn’t the most scintillating material, but its value superceded its entertainment factor! I’m sure the same will be true about many of your posts that are on the important but less dramatic topics. I certainly appreciate them!

      2. Hi Judy
        I use an exel spreadsheet for all my passwords, as I too started having too many to keep track of. I also have a Word document sheet with all my Insurance info, which I update annually, and throw out the old pieces of paper from this, that way I know that things are up to date. I keep this on the computer, but do a print out of this which goes at the front of my Insurance folder.

        My business information is kept in my MYOB system, which is my accounting system. Then when I want to know something about a past customer whom I created something special for and they want a repeat of this same order, I can go back via MYOB to their original order. I keep these original hardcopies filed in my order folders which are filed by the date that the order left my business, which I also include on their Invoice. This way I can always track what I have done. I now need to document this system in case the bus gets in my way!! Thanks Sherryl.

  33. Hi Sherryl
    Thank you for re-reminding us of this. This recently happened to a very prominent blogger Yaro Starak, of Brisbane, Australia, when his mother had a stroke and he was called to her bedside 24/7 for months, as he was her only child, and it was where he wanted to be. I had wondered why his emails had stopped and then he informed us. He was also able to relate first hand how his business was still supporting him and his team, because he had his systems in place. It proves that you never know what is round the corner and life is short, but if you are prepared and have systems in place then this certainly helps. Your checklist is most valuable Sherryl thank you.

    1. Hi Diane,
      Thanks for sharing the story about Yaro Stark. I follow him and had noticed that he had become unusually quiet. I had not heard the background story though. He’s a great example of having systems in place. It can seem to take a lot of time when you’re first starting to document everything but it becomes easier and keeping up with it becomes a habit. As you point out, life is short and you never know what sort of curve ball is going to be thrown at you.

      It’s good to see you back! (I fixed that annoying issue with my share buttons and IE 8.) – Thanks again for alerting me to that.

  34. Sherryl, Your articles always have something valuable in them. I consider myself very organized but this checklist will help me do an even better job of making sure my blog and SoMe presence will continue if I have to unexpectedly take a break for a bit. I love reading your posts and always learn from you! Thanks, Sherryl!

    Trish

  35. Sherryl, What a great resource and reminder!

    As a Procedures Analyst by trade (if not current employment) these are things that I certainly have but and perhaps more importantly not organized in a way that others could readily access them.

    You are also right that even lifestyle or hobby businesses frequently have an online presence to spread the word and potentially monetize. Having this type of documentation and back up material certainly opens up the potential to sell on the website (there is a market for sites with a cool name, history and readership) or existing business contracts and connections otherwise known as good will.

    Great topic, well addressed – probably why you are always on my Great Resource List.

    Laine D
    “Aspire to Inspire”
    http://www.ThoughtsfromABroad.net

    1. You’ve added some great points to my post Laine! Sometimes lifestyle, fashion, hobby (and other) bloggers start out blogging for fun and don’t really think of their blog as a business. Actually, your comment reminded me that before someone finds themselves with a site that has potential to be sold, hopefully, they’ve installed tracking software such as Google Analytics. The sooner you install it on your website, the more data you’ll collect. If someone were interested in buying your domain/website, this information could be instrumental in swaying potential buyers.

      Thanks for including me on your “Great Resource” list Laine. You’ve always been supportive and I’ve been introduced to some great bloggers by you. I never realized that you were a Procedures Analyst at one time. No wonder we have so much in common!

      1. Thanks Sherryl! I’m glad I sparked more of your thought process as you did mine 😀

        Yes “Procedures and Productivity Analysis” and even “Time and Motion studies” were my thing for many years” I still write training manuals, do feasibility studies and do consulting occasionally. Actually that’s how I ended up working for Pure Essence Labs. I co wrote many of their procedures and staff handbook 12 years ago and did a feasibility study on social media for them 1 1/2 years ago… so when asked how they could hire someone to run social media I raised my hand 😀

        I’m glad you are enjoying the Circulation Desk and forging so many good connections. Glad also to have you as a resource on a personal and business basis. I had BlueHost offer to have their resource contact me for a system exam the other day and I knew I already had it covered with someone who wont bury me in jargon.

        Keep on inspiring !
        Laine D
        “aspire to inspire”

  36. Very interesting Sherryl. Though I am not running a business, this is good info to know. I love the way you are helping everyone by informing us. It really does help me on many levels as a novice computer user. I thank you.

    1. Hi Bill,
      I’m glad you found this info valuable. At some point, you may decide to try to monetize your blog and if you pick up a few good habits along the way, you’ll be ahead of the game. Thanks for coming by. 🙂

  37. Sherryl, this is definitely something to keep in mind. For me personally I would like to be prepared mostly for my Wife. I’m actually working with a woman who has a book coming out called the Financial Black Box, it explains how we need to be prepared not only within the constraints of our documentations, but also for peace of mind for our families if something should happen to us. She describes in her book how her sister-in-law died of cancer but left instructions on all her documents and financial matters, but also planned out every birthday gift, including wedding and baby shower gifts for her kids, including cards for all those major events. It’s really amazing. I hope to share more about it once the book and design is all completed.

  38. Hi Sherryl. This is really an important issue that you brought up. Cautious as I am, I actually have a “sealed” envelope that says, “open in case of emergency”, lol.. I do update it once every three months and in it, has virtually everything form access codes, passwords, you name it. Never know what could happen 🙂

    1. Hi Francisco, Having a sealed envelope’s a good idea. I think I’d need a large manila one not a #10. 🙂 It’s great to hear so many people are prepared. (What’s not surprising is who is saying their prepared. From the detailed posts you write, I would have guessed you’d have all of this done.)

  39. Your article is spot on Sherryl. And, like Bryan mentioned it’s a subject that isn’t paid attention to online. Good and innovative angle!

    It can be disastrous for a one man show to not let someone else know what to do in case there’s a need. Am sure that an abundance of people haven’t even thought about it and then their relatives have no idea what to do.

    1. Thanks Catarina. I was reading an article on another blog about business goals and strategies and somehow my mind turned down this path. Big businesses do this sort of planning all of the time. If we have hopes of being successful business people, we need to prepare the same way they do.

  40. Hi Sherryl

    So much of this “boring” background stuff goes unnoticed, unspoken or just plain ignored. I know from past mistakes that I’ve been caught out having not paid attention and ended up creating a huge nightmare for myself. They say you live and learn 😉

    Needless to say, systems and procedures are high on my list of priorities. Putting in the time and effort early to cover all the bases really does pay dividends in the long run.

    Great post Sherryl

    1. Thanks Jackie. This “in-the-trenches” stuff can get pretty boring and that may be why (as Bryan pointed out) that other than on some attorney blogs, you don’t see this topic covered much. I would have guessed that systems and procedures are high on your priority list but I’m sure we both know people who may recognize themselves in my “post-it notes in a shoebox” comment. Sometimes, you don’t know what you should be documenting until you need it. Hopefully, this discussion will save someone else from “creating a huge nightmare” for themselves too.

  41. Sherryl — So much to consider. I know where all that information is but how could someone else find it? Another issue: if you live alone, as many entrepreneurs do, where do you keep your financial records? If you were incapacitated, would a business colleague or relative know where you bank, have your mortgage, your brokerage account, life insurance, your will, health care proxy, and living will? Have you given a trusted friend or relative a durable power of attorney? Life is complicated but it would be even more so without having central place where all this information is filed.

    1. Hi Jeannette, There is a lot to consider. I keep a document called “Important” in a file folder labeled “***IMPORTANT**” (and highlighted in bright yellow) in the very front of the top file in our desk filing cabinet. That document contains all of my key information along with a brief explanation of what I do on that particular site or with that particular client or vendor. That would work if I were able to still manage my business without being hands on. If I were to be totally out of the picture (the old hit-by-a-bus scenario), my business probably would be in pieces if and when I came back to it. For me, I should either partner up with someone or involve my husband more. As for our personal financial records, I’m confident my husband is up to speed on that. (Again, highlighted , well-labeled files is the key.) Great points Jeannette. Thanks for raising them.

  42. Sherryl, aloha. Bryan’s comment was right on because you do not see this important discussion often enough.

    Thought you have clients and current projects listed, for a new person stepping in, it would be helpful to have info listed by name/project. Thus, if someone called saying they were Suzie Q, I could quickly flip to Suzie Q and find out who she is/what the company is doing for her. Also, if someone called on the XYZ Project, again, a new person could flip to learn the particulars on the XYZ projects.

    As small business owners, we tend to carry a wealth of information in our heads, forgetting that someone new does not know the back story as we do.

    Great advice, Sherryl. Until next time, aloha. Janet

    1. That’s a great point Janet about info on each client. Thanks. I maintain an Excel spreadsheet for each of my clients with detailed information on the work that I’ve done for them. This document serves as a time sheet and as a how-to manual for their site or strategy. It’s a huge help for me when I’m searching for a solution for a client. If I have another client where I’ve implemented a situation similar to what I’m thinking of, I can access that worksheet and quickly find the solution. All of this documentation could be used by someone filling in for me.

  43. Sherryl – My business could keep going if something happened to me because my son is having trouble finding a job and could take over the day to day aspects of the job. However, I am completely without any sort of back up plan if he finds a job. Here is to hoping that my contingency plan falls apart, as it would be nice if my son finds employment.

    1. Hi Randy,
      I wish you son good luck with his job search! You strike me as someone who already has a lot of documentation for your business already. Admit it. You have all your FTP info, logons etc documented. Don’t you? 🙂

  44. One challenge though is that so many businesses are either hobby or lifestyle and the owner is the business. And these are good businesses. If you are creating a wealth generating business, this information is essential.

    1. That is so true Roberta. So many bloggers have aspirations of monetizing their blogs. By taking some of the steps that I’ve mentioned above now, they can possibly prevent losing the time and effort they’ve invested in the future. There are so many potentially good blogs in the blogosphere that have been abandoned. I can’t help but think that some of the owners would have wanted to keep them running but sometimes things happen that we’re unprepared for.

  45. Hi Sherryl,

    I saw this topic / title and was immediately drawn to it. This is a very little discussed topic in the blogosphere. Maybe on some attorney blogs, etc., but not too often on a diverse blog like Keep Up With The Web. This is a terrific post and those that own any sized business should take note of this article. Not only are you helping to establish a “smooth conversion” for businesses, but hopefully making people aware of just how serious things could get without a contingency plan. Coming from a family-owned business background with 6 brothers and sisters, you can imagine the chaos and deteriorated relationships had this not been in place by my parents before their departure from this earth!

    1. Hi Bryan,
      Thanks for the feedback! I try to share business related info like this because I think a lot of bloggers get so wrapped up in the art of blogging that they don’t get into the “trenches” so to speak of the nitty-gritty operations behind running a successful business.

      Thanks for sharing your example of how having a contingency plan for your family owned business avoided chaos and helped to maintain relationships among you and your siblings. Sometimes, relating personal experiences can help others recognize their own situation and hopefully take the necessary steps to secure their future.