How to Write an Emergency Plan for Your Online Business

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What would happen to your business, or your clients and customers, if something bad happened to you? I know it’s a morbid thought, but you still need to consider it.

It’s obvious that you need to create a will for your house, investments, heirlooms, and whatnot. We take care of the kids, parents, siblings, and the few family members that we can actually tolerate. But what happens to our businesses?

Even if you’re just temporarily unavailable, like you were in a car accident or needed emergency surgery (which totally happened to me 🙋🏻‍♀️), what would happen to your business without you around?

Why You Need a Business Emergency Plan

Whether you’re a solopreneur or have a team who could mostly keep things going, you need to have an emergency plan in place in case something happens to you. Even if you have an amazing OBM (online business manager) or project manager, would they know what to do if you unexpectedly died?

Here are some of the benefits you’ll get from having an emergency plan for your online business:

  • Peace of mind - No worrying now, or if an accident happens, about your business. If you’re lying in the hospital, the last thing you want to be doing is scrambling with your phone to alert the right people and take care of everything. You should be focused on getting better!
  • Clients/Customers taken care of - Your Clients/Customers/Students/Groups/ Etc. deserve to know what’s going on with you. They don’t necessarily need all the details, but they should be told as soon as possible so they aren’t left wondering where the heck you are and why you aren’t responding to them.
  • Business is secure - The future of your business is protected by having a plan in place for when something goes wrong. Instead of everything coming to a screeching halt, operations can continue (mostly) as usual.

How to Write a Business Emergency Plan

Now, we’re talking about basic instructions for how to handle things, not a legally binding will.

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer and nothing in this article is legal advice. If you need legal advice, please contact a licensed attorney.

The purpose of this article is to help you outline the steps that should be taken in the event that you are temporarily unable to work or deceased. You should also include your business in your will or living trust though so it’s legally binding.

Ok, now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s look at what should be included in your business emergency plan.

Assign an Administrator

The very first step should be finding 2 people who are willing and able to be the administrator for your emergency plan. Make sure you’re choosing reliable people that you can literally trust with your life because you’ll be handing them the keys to the kingdom. You could potentially have them sign a contract stating that they would never steal your business or sign in to your accounts unless you are incapacitated or dead.

I chose my partner as my administrator because I obviously believe I can trust him. But it occurred to me that we could both die in a plane crash together… So, I also asked my best friend to be an administrator for me.

Your administrator could be a spouse, adult child, parent or grandparent, sibling, friend… it’s really up to you. Talk to these people about what they would need to do and make sure they’re up for the task.

Software and Access

You should have a list of software that you use to run your business, as well as the access information for each one.

For my business, I keep a list of all of my tools in AirTable along with prices, renewal dates, URLs, and my notes on each one. I update this sheet regularly throughout the month so I know it’s always up to date.

My passwords are all saved in LastPass, so my emergency plan includes directions on how to find the list and sign in to get the passwords.

Physical Property

You don’t need to list every paperclip you own, but anything significant you own or use for business should be listed so your administrator will know about it.

These are some things you might want to include:

  • P.O. Box
  • Office or Coworking space
  • Laptop
  • Computer Accessories
  • Cameras
  • Video Equipment
  • Industry specific

Client Information and Contact Process

This may be the most important thing in the emergency plan for your online business. Whoever is administering your emergency plan needs to know who your clients are and how to contact them.

I say “clients” but this could also extend to other people in your business bubble:

  • Team Members
  • Contractors
  • Biz Besties
  • 1-1 Clients
  • Group Clients
  • Customers
  • Students
  • Facebook Group
  • Memberships
  • Email Marketing List
  • Social Media Audience
  • And the list keeps going…

Try to think of any people you may want notified. And each group of people can receive different notifications in different circumstances. You’ll need to create templates for your administrator to use when they contact these people. This will make it easier for them, and make sure they don’t send something offensive.

“Bruh, Becky kicked the can. You ain’t gettin’ a refund. Peace out!”

How To Handle Temporary Situations

It’s great that you’re not dead, but what if you’re in the hospital for 2 weeks and can’t work?

Are there any tasks that need to be done in order to keep your business running in the meantime? Do you have SOPs for those tasks so that someone else could do them on your behalf?

What Should Be Done with Your Business

If you’re no longer able to run your business or you die, what will happen to your business? Here are some options:

  • Nothing. Just leave it like an online ghost.
  • Shut it down. Close down the website and delete the social media accounts.
  • Give it away. Leave your business to a family member, friend, or another business owner who can grow it.
  • Sell it. You can learn more about selling an online business in this article: How to Prepare and Sell Your Online Business

Whatever you decide to do with your business, you’ll need to outline the process for your administrator(s) so they aren’t left trying to figure things out on their own.

And I hate to say this but… don’t forget about taxes! Ask your accountant how taxes would be handled for your business in the event of your death. The details will vary by country or state.

How to Create an Online Business Emergency Plan

I recommend using a Google Doc for your business emergency plan. Most people are familiar with them and have a Gmail account. But not many people are familiar with tools like Trello, Asana, and ClickUp. You can always link to your emergency plan in your project management system, but you really need something you can easily share with your administrators.

You definitely want to record videos using a tool like Loom and link to them in your emergency plan. Here are some you might want to record:

  • General overview of why, what, when, where, how…
  • Explanation or walkthrough of the Google Doc
  • Accessing passwords and software they need
  • Location of SOPs and how to use them

If you have a legal will, living trust, or power of attorney, you should also include a note about these in your online business emergency plan. It will be important for your administrator to know about these documents so they can plan accordingly.

Finally, create a recurring task in your calendar to update your business emergency plan every 6 months. This will keep things up-to-date as your business grows.

Take Action

Reading this article isn’t enough to protect your business. You actually need to take action and create an emergency plan for your online business!

I created a template to help you get started so this wouldn’t be so daunting for you to complete. Grab it below and get started!

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