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What happens if a crisis pulls you away from your business? Will it keep running without missing a beat? Or will it collapse in your absence? 

As a business owner, this is a very real scenario to consider. Life doesn’t care what you have scheduled or planned. Family emergencies, illness and personal crises can quickly take you away from your business for an extended period of time and often when you least expect it.

A business that can’t run without you, won’t run without you. If only you have the knowledge and understanding of how your business operates, it won’t be long before it crumbles in your absence. If you haven’t prepared your employees to work without you, they will be left scrambling and stressed. 

To ensure your business’s survival, you need a game plan. Here are three things you can do to prepare your workers and business for the unexpected: 

1)  Put it in writing

Create written policies and procedures that tell your employees what to do if you have to leave unexpectedly. This is your business operations manual– think of it as a “How To Guide” for your business. It will help your team keep your business operating seamlessly, even when faced with the added stress of your absence. The documentation should cover how the business does certain tasks, day-to-day operations and key contacts (such as clients, suppliers, and so on). 

2)  Designate a second-in-command

If you’re not able to lead your team, you need someone you can trust to take the helm – your second-in-command. Having a reliable and capable stand-in will give you (and your team) peace of mind. Ensure a smooth transition by pre-preparing them on routine and unexpected tasks. That way, you won’t have time for a comprehensive handover if you need to suddenly leave. 

3)  Have a system for communication

 If you can stay in touch with your business, put a communications process in place and stick to it. Have one or two designated contact people who will share information, so you’re not bombarded with calls and requests. A simple email via your designated contact is a great way to provide encouragement and thanks to motivate your team. 

Pro tip: Take a holiday. 

What better way to test how the business runs without you than leaving it for a week or two? When you return, sit down with your 2IC and look at where issues arose. 

In a survey by bookkeeping software Xero, more than half (57%) of Australian small business owners claim they have not had a holiday in over a year, with a third claiming they were unable to relax if they don’t know what’s going on. By preparing your business for your absence, you’ll be confident to take more holidays knowing that your business won’t collapse as soon as you put on your “out of office”. 

Plan now. 

You never know when the unexpected will happen and take you away from your business. So, prepare now. Use these three strategies and you’ll have the peace of mind that your team and business will run smoothly without you.


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