A Canadian based crypto currency exchange claims they can no longer repay their customers $250 million worth of funds after the founder unexpectedly passed away holding the master password. The founder reportedly was the only person who knew the codes and security logins

While this case is unfortunate, it's also not uncommon. Many businesses owners don't prepare for emergencies or death--myself included. "How do you manage your processes a friend recently asked me?" "50 percent is in my head." I replied. "So if you get hit by a bus, your business will shut down?" he retorted. 

I had never thought about it that way--but it was true. In the event of an emergency, my business would turn to chaos. As a business owner, here are three ways you can ensure your operations run smoothly--with or without you. 

1. Share knowledge with appropriate parties. 

This $250 million dollar problem could have easily been avoided if one other party on the team knew the password. Sure, it's fair to be skeptical with what others could do with the password, but at the very least--give the password to someone for safekeeping that you wholeheartedly trust. (Even if that person is your mother!)

While death is an extreme case, emergencies can and will happen. I've had to work through colds, broken bones, and other medical emergencies. I've since learned that it's very important for my team to know about the interworkings of the business in my absence. Now, when I'm out with a cold, I have a reliable and trustworthy colleague who can step in.

Even though you might be in charge, there should be someone else in the business who knows the passwords and high level business logistics. 

2. Write down important processes and don't keep them in your head. 

In the case of the exchange, $250 million is now stuck and could have easily been prevented. Even if the password wasn't given to anyone on the team, a process on how to get the password should have been documented and passed to a trusted team member.

This year, I'm committed to taking business processes out of my head, and documenting them. This way, in a crisis, I can easily pass the reigns to someone on my team seamlessly. Not only will writing down processes help in case of emergency, but it will also help you take a hard look at the way things are currently being done. Sometimes writing down your process can help you see flaws and mistakes you might not have seen otherwise. 

3. Use software for password protection.

Storing passwords in your head is not only dangerous for your business, but can also cause a huge headache if you forget the password. I use tools like OnePassword and KeePass to encrypt my passwords with extra two-factor authentication. Not only will this help store your passwords safely, but in an event of a stolen computer (like I had happen this year) your accounts will unaccessible with a double layer of protection.

Crisis could strike at any time. Is your business prepared?

Published on: Feb 12, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.