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Can Your Business Survive Without You?

What would happen to your business if you were called away on an emergency? Here are three tips to ensure it doesn't miss a beat.

I was recently called away from the office for a family emergency. While sitting in the hospital waiting for news on my relative I began to wonder about the importance of having an orderly plan in place when people are unexpectedly called away from the office. When people go on vacation you have the opportunity to plan for their leave. But is your business really prepared for the unexpected?

My first mentor attorney was a great instructor. A former Assistant U.S. Attorney he taught me almost everything I know about trial work. And one of his most indelible lessons, albeit somewhat morbid, was that you always need to prepare and build business such that if the leader "gets hit by a bus tomorrow" someone steps into his or her place and the company does not miss a beat.

So ask yourself, what would happen if I were suddenly called away from the office? What would happen if I were hit by the proverbial bus?

So to make your company impervious to this possibility prepare for the unexpected today. Here's how:

1.  List Your Critical Functions

List your critical functions to the company. Understand what you need to do on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis to keep the company going.

2.  Order of Succession

Create a redundant order of succession such that when you are out others in the office automatically know they are charged with the responsibility of getting those functions completed.

3.  Train Your Successors

Once the functions are identified and an order of succession put in place train your successors in every facet of their assigned duties so that when that day comes the transition is seamless and the business moves forward even in your absence.

Last updated: May 18, 2012

MATTHEW SWYERS | Columnist | Founder, The Trademark Company

Matthew Swyers is the founder of The Trademark Company, a Web-based law firm specializing in protecting the trademark rights of small to medium-size businesses. The company is ranked No. 138 on the 2011 Inc. 500.

The opinions expressed here by columnists are their own, not those of

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