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“An emergency plan?”, you might be asking. Isn’t that how we are operating right now? Well, not necessarily.
At this point in the crisis, you have already activated a lot of alternative procedures. But there is still more that you can do.
This is an ever-changing situation, so we can’t be sure of what will happen. The truth is, anyone involved with the business could be unavailable at any time, and at the spur of the moment. Someone could get sick, have to tend to a loved one who is ill, or have a financial emergency which pulls them away from work for a day, a week, or longer.
This includes you, business owner. So, my first recommendation is to go through the list of every worker you have, yourself included, and decide what each person brings to your organization that no one else does.
Does only one person know how to access passwords or documents? Does only one person have access to contact information for all the suppliers, patients, clients or customers? Do you have some employees who haven’t needed a key or access codes because someone is always already there when they arrive?
Although it is not reasonable or even possible, to make sure that everyone can do everything, it is possible to have a safety net. Here is how:
- Have everyone sit down and make instructions for how to access information that is usually available only to them. have them share it only with you, so that you can decide who has access to sensitive information.
- Have everyone give directions on how to accomplish the tasks they are responsible to do. This can be done by a typed list, an instructional video, providing a manual, etc.
- Don’t rely on your employees just being told verbally. They may not write it down, or may not be able to understand their notes if some time passes between hearing the instructions and having to act.
- Some tasks are specialized. Are you a doctor, CPA, master plumber or specialist in information technology? You may not be able to pass the tasks on to others, in fact, it may not even be legal to do so. Here is where your resource list comes in. Give your staff a list of a few other professionals in your specialty that can fill in for you, or answer questions for your staff if you are unavailable.
- Make a list of the professionals that you use like your CPA, your banker, your lawyer, and your marketing person.
- Cross-training is important. If you have time, have your employees cross-train each other in the important tasks needed to keep your business running smoothly. Continue to do so after the crisis has passed. It is a safety net that comes in handy.
- Make sure you have a valid Texas Durable Power of Attorney in place so that someone can run your business temporarily if you are unable. This document will give access to your accounts, payroll, suppliers and will allow your trusted agent to keep things going.
- Make sure you have a current Texas Will and have provided for what will happen to your business when you are gone.
We will continue to post tips to deal with Covid 19. Look for future posts with additional help and tips for small businesses, individuals, and families.