Planning for Disaster: What would happen to your business if you died?


OK, that post title. Heavy. But we have to talk about this stuff.

We prepare for this in our personal lives. We give thought to:

  • Life & Disability Insurance,
  • Wills,
  • and Godparents. 

But what would happen to your biz...if something happened to you? 

As difficult a topic as it is, deep down we all know it’s our responsibility as business owners to prep our businesses for disaster or death. We want to make sure our families are protected, and our clients are taken care of. 

Here are 5 things I’ve done to ensure that my family, biz and clients are taken care of, should something happen to me: 

1. Draft a “hit by a bus” plan

This was a term I learned in grad school. It simply means: disaster preparedness. So I’ve spent time thinking through some scenarios that could happen (like extended illness or death). And then I wrote down action steps that would need to be taken.

2. Review the plan regularly

This isn’t “one and done.” It needs to be reviewed and updated periodically. For instance, I have a recurring task set in my project management software as a part of my month end wrap up. At the end of each month, I review my Current Clients doc in Google Drive. I remove clients whose projects ended that month, and I add the new faces who’ve brought me on board. The doc is simple - just their name and email. But it would be easier for James (my husband) to not have to search for that info. 

3. Remember the passwords

Your plan is no good to your loved ones if they can’t access your important accounts, like website and inbox. I have all of my passwords saved in LastPass, and have shared them with my husband. (Be sure to check out the Emergency Access feature in LastPass!) And since I do so much business on Facebook, I've added James as a Legacy Contact, too, so he'll able to respond to any potential friend requests from other biz owners, etc. They’ll have everything they need, should the unthinkable happen.

4. Look at your contract

The majority of my clients are on recurring retainers with me. Because the client reserves that time with me, and I usually work ahead on projects, I have a clause in my contract that states retainer fees are nonrefundable. In my plan, I’ve certainly included instructions for how to shut off recurring retainers; and how to use the refund button for any one-off projects whose work hasn’t begun. Be sure to take a look at your contract, and think about promises you’ve made there (like regular response times, for instance), and how they could impact your emergency contacts.

5. Stay up to date on your record keeping

I take this one very seriously. I file all my receipts as soon as they come in, and I have regular tasks set to tackle things like regular biz expenses. I would hate to have slacked on this for a month or two, and leave James to figure it out. It’s easier for them, and it’s just good business practice, too!

I know this topic isn’t a terribly fun one to discuss.

But once you set up a plan, you’ll find a lot of peace knowing you’ve done your best to take care of your family, biz partners and, perhaps most importantly, those wonderful clients. 

This is a tough topic, but I'm happy to chat about it with you a bit more. I'm in my FB group 7 days a week, chatting and answering questions. Hope you'll come on over.


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