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  • Writer's pictureMichelle R Brown

Do You have a Business Emergency Plan in place?

This article was written to a group of business owners, but it also applies to the church office as most of them are a one-woman or one-man operation. I hope you get some helpful tips.


Life happens, and recently it happened in a way that I was completely unprepared for. I received the phone call that no mother wants to receive early last Thursday morning. Our youngest son called and said "Mom, don't freak out, but I'm in the ER". Well, of course, Momma's heart rate jumps up and the day continued to be a rollercoaster ride. Our son ended up having to have emergency surgery to remove a very inflamed gall bladder and I was not able to be there because I had a business to run. My husband WAS able to go because we own the business, but I was NOT able to go because.... we own the business. Anyone else ever have that issue?


We have part time employees, but no one has been trained to actually run our business if we're not there. So I had to stay. Thursday was a mess as my husband arrived in Indianapolis 30 minutes after the surgery began. Then the normally estimated 45 minute surgery ended up taking nearly 4 hours due to complications! To say I was an emotional mess was an understatement. Then ALL day on Friday I felt like I failed as a Mother because for the first time in either of our children's lives, I was not there for a surgery. Then the thought struck me... this IS all your fault. I'm the one who chose to make myself indispensable to the business by not having an "Emergency Plan" in place and having policies and procedures to help others do the basics to run the business for a day or two in my absence.

As with any obstacle, after I had time to process, I took the situation on as a challenge to be conquered. Friday evening, I got out a notepad and pen and made a list of the procedures anyone would need to know to keep the doors open for a day or two while I took care of other concerns. Basics like:

  • Opening procedures

  • Closing procedures

  • How to look up special orders and place an order with a distributor

  • How to issue a refund

  • How to handle donation requests

  • How to get change for the cash drawers

  • How to look up an inventory item

Any other task that came up could absolutely wait until I returned.


I promised myself, my husband and both our children that this would never happen again. Even though I am SO grateful that my husband was able to be with him from day one, it's not the same as Momma being there. Dad's are great, but Mom's have that special touch and comfort that only a Momma can give.


I immediately realized that I need to, and will also, be going through the same process with the bookkeeping and tax business. There are too many things that I still do as the owner, that I should be delegating 100% to my employees. Tasks such as:

  • Step-by-Step on how to reconcile books for specific clients

  • How to process payroll for each client

This process can be completed in Asana Project Management Software under their FREE plan. And seriously, EVERY other task other than the monthly work can wait until you return. You certainly don't want to be doing consultations, sending Engagement Letters or other client acquisition tasks at a time that is not best for you and your business. Give your employees the tools needed to do their jobs to the best of their ability. You hired employees to help you -- let. them. help.


But what if I'm the only one working in my business?

Even if you don't have employees, you still need to have those procedures in place so someone could fill in if such an emergency occurs. The same steps mentioned above would be a HUGE help to anyone with bookkeeping/payroll experience to step in temporarily and help you out until you return. I was out-of-commission for 3 weeks in September 2021 with COVID and still processed payroll. Had I had an "Emergency Plan" in place, I would most definitely used it because I could only sit up for 20 minutes at a time so I would process one payroll, take a nap, then do the next one, take a nap and repeated the process until all were completed. Having an arrangement with a fellow professional to help each other out in such circumstances can give you great piece of mind.


Application/Take-Away:

Regardless of where you are in your business growth, you need to take a look to see if you have an "Emergency Plan" in place because emergencies ARE going to happen! The world is full of them and we need to be prepared. God is not the author of confusion, but of peace. He has given us everything we need to fulfill the calling He has given us and that includes the knowledge to keep peace in our businesses in the midst of some temporary chaos in another area of our life.


P.S. I did finally make it to Indianapolis and took care of my boy for 3 days. He was happy to see me and I was thrilled to be there for him. Your children will always be your babies -- no matter how old they are.


Until next time... keep representing Him well!


Michelle

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