Life is unpredictable, and sometimes things happen that we never saw coming.
Whether it's a sudden health issue, a family emergency, or just the need for a well-deserved break, there may come a time when you're unable to run your advice business. The question is: do you have the systems, processes, and people in place to keep your business thriving even when you can't be at the helm?
Over the past 12 months, I’ve attended three funerals: a family member, a client and a colleague/mentor. As is often the case, it caused me to sit back and consider the many things that need to be put in place should the unexpected happen.
Running an advice business – whether it's coaching, consulting, or any other form of guidance – requires more than just your expertise and it’s an expensive exercise. It involves a web of interconnected elements that, when well-planned, can ensure the continuity and success of your business even if life throws you a curveball.
Building robust systems and processes
Systems and processes are the foundation of a resilient advice business. These are the gears that keep the machine running smoothly, even when you're not there to turn the handle. Start by documenting your daily operations, from client onboarding to delivering your services and handling administrative tasks.
Consider how technology can automate repetitive tasks. Whether it's scheduling appointments, managing client data or sending follow-up emails, automation can streamline your workflow and make it easier for someone else to step in seamlessly.
Cloud-based tools can also be a game-changer. Storing essential documents and data in the cloud ensures accessibility from anywhere, allowing you or your designated team members to pick up where you left off without missing a beat.
Preparing your people
Your team, whether big or small, is a crucial asset to the continuity of your business. If you're a solo advice business, think about potential collaborators or freelancers who could step in temporarily. If you have a team, ensure that everyone is cross-trained and familiar with each other's responsibilities. After all, it’s the people that will keep your business going.
Communication and meaningful connections are key. Let your team know about your contingency plans and ensure they have access to the information and resources they need. Regular check-ins and updates can keep everyone in the loop and ready to take charge if needed.
This won’t happen overnight; it takes months and years to build a strong team with future leaders within it. You won’t know immediately where the hidden gems are, as sometimes you need to foster and coach them to help them grow and flourish to become the leaders you aspire them to be.
Creating a succession plan
A succession plan might sound like something reserved for big companies, but it's equally important for small advice businesses. Identify key roles within your business and groom potential successors and future leaders. This could be someone from your team or even a trusted external contact who understands your business.
Clearly outline the steps to be taken in case of your temporary absence or, in more extreme cases, a permanent departure. Having a designated person who can step into leadership roles, even temporarily, can be a lifeline for your business.
Documenting your expertise
Your advice business likely thrives on your unique insights and expertise. Don't keep all that knowledge locked in your head. Document your processes, methodologies, and best practices. This not only aids in training others but also ensures that the essence of your advice business remains intact even if you're not there to personally deliver it.
Consider creating a knowledge repository: this could be presented via written documentation, video tutorials or a combination of both. This not only helps your team but can also serve as valuable resources for your clients.
Running an advice business involves more than just providing excellent guidance; it's about building a resilient infrastructure that can weather unexpected storms. By investing time in creating robust systems, preparing your people, establishing a succession plan and documenting your expertise, you're not only future-proofing your business but also ensuring that the impact of your advice continues even when you're not the one giving it.
Life is unpredictable, but with the right preparations, your advice business can remain a beacon of support and guidance, no matter what happens. So: what have you done to help create your succession plan should the unexpected happen?