Emergency Preparedness for Small Business Owners


How well prepared are you for the unexpected? What would happen to your business if you became unexpectedly incapacitated and unable to take care of your business for a while? Does your spouse, family, co-owner, or best friend know where to find the keys to your business or store, how to access client contact information to let them know of delays, or know how to get in touch with your landlord or bank manager about delayed payments?

Nobody plans to get run over or break their arm or leg while skiing, skating, slipping on wet leaves, or [insert your own most likely accident]. The reality is, life happens, so wouldn’t you rather prepare your dear ones with a list of emergency to do’s?

Recently I have had several conversations with James Cockfield, an investment adviser with BMO Nesbitt Burns. He invited me to a presentation by one of his BMO colleagues, James Kraft, on “Succession Planning for Business Owners”. The focus of the talk was on the top 10 pitfalls when planning to sell or pass on your business. Although that may lie further in the future than most of us can or want to consider, the finer points can affect any business owner.

After the presentation, James C. and I lightheartedly discussed which kind of emergency list I should prepare in case I got “struck and vaporised by a huge meteorite” (his scenario). I amended his scenario to something assuring my survival, like ‘being flung across a field by a crashing meteorite’.

As you picture me lying in a field with some broken limbs, consider my situation if you might: Sole proprietor, leasing a commercial space for business, single, and family lives in Europe. Whom do you call; after you’ve called 911?

James Cockfield suggests, “Just start with a list: Who’s your bank manager? Who has a key to your business? How can someone contact your landlord?” These are crucial aspects for me, as I would hate to see my siblings in Europe or my local friends burdened with trying to figure these things out, as I lay in a hospital bed, shocked speechless from almost being hit by a meteorite.

So, I will start making my list and checking it twice. And then, most importantly, give a copy to a couple of chosen local, trustworthy contacts and my family.

For help with your list or if you’re thinking about selling or passing on your business in the next 1-3 years, contact James Cockfield, James.Cockfield@nbpcd.com, and ask for a positive outcome not involving large objects falling out of the sky.

Martina Rowley is the founder and operator of Beach Business Hub – THE coworking space east of the Don Valley. She combined her passion and experience in the environmental sector with her community engagement side to create a local work environment where space and resources are shared. She fosters and facilitates collaboration, networking, and learning for and with small business owners and new startups.  Contact her at:http://www.beachbusinesshub.ca, on Facebook and on Twitter

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