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BUSINESS MATTERS: Performance in Your Absence

By Glen J. Dalakian Sr.

How long can your business survive without you at the helm? Are your people ready to cover for you in case of an unexpected long-term absence? Have you trained your staff to handle all areas of responsibility, and do they know who would shift into leadership roles if you were not around? These are questions most business owners ask themselves, but too often they kick the can down the road, thinking, “A surprise absence would never happen to me.”

I have seen too many businesses faulter due to an emergent shift in management. An illness, accident or death can leave a company without the right wisdom to guide them through a difficult time. Don’t wait! This is the time to prepare a strategy to cover any surprises. Perhaps this is an exercise you don’t want to think about, but you owe it to yourself to do so. Take some time and consider what your organization would look like if you were not available to work for the next month or more. This can be a scary thought, but one we all need to face. At some point in time (and I hope not for many years), you will not be able to come to work. What then?  

As a professional, none of this should shock you. Have you developed systems that will generate income through your business regardless of your presence? Perhaps the company will not run at peak performance without you, but is it sustainable in your absence? As long as it can function with integrity and turn a profit without you, the company is in a good place for you, your employees, clients and family.

Here are some important steps to prepare for an emergency:

1) Start writing: Create an outline of what your responsibilities are and where gaps may develop without you.

2) Review: Give serious thought to how and who will fill your shoes.

3) Resources: Who can help your team if you are not available? Perhaps a trusted accountant, attorney or other business owner?

4) Identify leaders: Who on your team can best handle some of your responsibilities? You may have to spread your duties out to several people.

5) Training: Once you know who you can trust to fill gaps, train them. Let them know that they are special and would be relied upon in your absence.

6) Finalize a game plan: Write specific instructions for an emergency situation, and be sure your key people know how to access these details if you are unexpectedly out for a prolonged period of time. It should be clear who you delegate responsibilities to, and you need to give them your authority in writing to do so.

A long-term goal for any business owner should be to one day see his/her company run on its own without them being there. This, in my opinion, is the expression of ultimate success for any entrepreneur.

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