Okay, this is a conversation that not many people want to have, but it has to happen, and I want to be the one to discuss it with you. It's not a comfortable thing to think about, let alone write about but I believe in stepping outside of my comfort zone.
Life is uncertain. Anything can happen at any moment. I have received emails from several wonderful bloggers who have unexpectedly been taken ill. Thankfully they all made a speedy recovery. It then got me thinking, what would have happened to these bloggers if they were in a position where they couldn't update anyone and tell them what was going on? As an entrepreneur, even when you're very unwell, you're still thinking about your business. It comes with the territory.
In my job at the bank, we always used to joke; there are two certainties in life; tax and death. As funny as it sounds now, it's not a laughing matter. As an Entrepreneur, I like to think that we are all on top of business logistics as much as we are on top of the creative side of operations. We all prepare for tax season but how many people prepare for that inevitable thing called ‘death'?
Let me tell you a personal story. In December 2014, my dad died. The news of his death was very unexpected. I was expecting a call from the GP in regards to my pregnancy and instead I picked up the phone to a police officer telling me that my dad had passed away the night before.
Unfortunately, pregnant or not, as next of kin, funeral arrangements had to begin, and I had to call his employer to inform him that my dad has passed on. It was a tough conversation to have. Preparing for that conversation was difficult, it was a conversation I did not expect to be having at that moment. Having to go through my father's possessions to get his bosses details was tough. I then had the added stress of contacting institutions to tell them to stop taking payments from his bank accounts. I then had to inform others he is not liable for any further payments as he has now passed away.
My dad was a very organised man.I was able to do things quickly because he had everything in one place. Had he not, I would have most probably had a hell of a time gathering all the information. When I went to his home, I found all his relevant documents in once place. Not having to look through his things was such a relieve as I was not ready. It was all too final. While people were telling me to calm down for the sake of the baby, it was hard, but having all the documents, I would need in once place, made things that little bit easier. It pays to be organised.
I know it sounds morbid talking about this. I bet you are asking, what brought this on. Well, in my mastermind, a fellow buddy mentioned that someone in her circle passed away unexpectedly and it made her think about what would happen should she pass away. I had been here; when my dad passed. That is when I realised I would need to start thinking about things like this. I have a spreadsheet with all my details should anything happen to me. It got me thinking, how many people think about this? I don't think many do (although I hope I am wrong) so here I am writing about it.
It got me thinking, with all these bloggers getting ill, and now someone passing away, how many people think about this? I don't think many do (although I hope I am wrong) so here I am writing about it.
I want to share with you some of the things that you should record in a safe place in case you are very unwell or in the worst case scenario, sadly passed away. If anything did happen to you, you are going to want your readers and clients to be aware of the situation. There are so many things to consider if you are going to be spending a substantial amount of time away from the business unexpectedly. Having said this, I am only going to focus on what information you should consider storing safely, for your online business.
Firstly, I am going to talk about the type of information you are going to want to store, followed by methods you can use to save it.
INFORMATION YOU SHOULD CONSIDER STORING
BANK ACCOUNT INFORMATION
If you have a separate business account (which you should have if you are a separate entity), you'll want your designated person to have access to this to distribute your funds accordingly (i.e. to stop payments and pay for things that may still be due, even in the event of your death). You may be in a position to give instructions on the phone or via internet banking. If not, it's a good idea to have a system in place for someone to access your accounts. If the person accessing your funds is your next of kin, it would be easier if they had your details in one place rather than searching high and low for them.
You may have a database which you use to handle all of your client's information. Having access to this information will allow the person in charge to communicate with customers and either get someone in to help complete projects or directly inform clients of the situation and create another reasonable solution (i.e., outsource the work). Having all customer information makes it easier to deal with each query. 9/10 times, clients are very sympathetic, but sadly, you may get one strange fruit. Do you have the ability to add a secondary person? Consider doing this.
Your content management system will be the program you use to hold all your blog/business content. Examples of a CMS would be WordPress, Squarespace, Blogger. It may be a good idea to put a subtle notification on your website to allow new and returning users of your site to understand the situation. If you are selling products and orders are coming through that you will be unable to fulfil, accessing the website will allow someone the ability to close the shop temporarily/permanently. The person in charge may also opt to put a landing page to announce the news that you are currently unavailable (if necessary). If you are working solo, chances you are the only one with this information. Storing this information somewhere will avoid someone else having to jump through hoops to get access. With WordPress, you can create another user. Is there anyone you trust to have access?
HOST & DOMAIN NAME DETAILS
Depending on what is going to happen to the site, your host & domain details are needed to either extend, cancel or transfer ownership (if necessary). Having this information nearby can help speed up the process, and it removes the guesswork for someone who is not as clued up as you when it comes to locating host details. It would be a good idea to store access details and specific instructions (if required). If you were to pass away and these details were not present, I am sure with evidence, the host would be reasonable in this situation but having details ready, speeds up the process and reduces stress and confusion.
As we all know, there are so many things that go into maintaining a site. You could have subscribed to premium stock image galleries, applications such as Adobe, Accounting software and so much more. Having a list of all your subscriptions takes away the guesswork and confusion and makes cancelling each subscription easy (if you need to).
I'm not sure about you, but I have several email addresses. For good reasons! Some emails, I wouldn't care if it wasn't accessed but others have important details that may be needed in the event of my death. Taking a note of primary email addresses and passwords will allow someone else to access it in the case of your absence in case they need to retrieve information from them.
SCRIPTS FOR NOTIFYING SUBSCRIBERS/CLIENTS/SOCIAL MEDIA FOLLOWERS
Some people know exactly what to say or do, while others may not do so well in such circumstances. When the time is right, creating a script would be a very useful so all that has to be done is copy and paste the text on social media platforms and emails. Another thing scratched off the list for the person in charge.
Worst case scenario: It will be a devastating moment in the event of your death. Your loved ones will most probably be unaware of what to feel or think straight away. Having all this information handy takes away the guesswork and allows them to focus on mourning you. They may also be able to get someone else to handle this with suitable instructions. While you may argue that all these things could be sorted by just showing the death certificate, it's not easy having to look through files and documents and digging through websites when you're emotional. You may also want things done in such a way that nobody else would think about but you. Easy to navigate instructions gives your designated person one less thing to worry about.
While I recommend all this information, I suggest you look at preparing a will. As I am not a lawyer, I would strongly recommend seeking legal advice and requesting a consultation to discuss any other means of protecting your business in the event of your death. You may be too early in the game to start considering these things, but it's okay. Give yourself a goal, when your business hits a certain amount; it may be time to find a system to take effect on your death.
It's not just about money. You may have a friend who wants to continue what you started, or an outside party may be interested in your business. There are so many what if's and having a plan prepares for all of this.
METHODS YOU CAN USE TO STORE YOUR DETAILS
Apple Notes have recently released an update that allows you to password protect notes. This means you can write everything you want in a note, lock the note and have the password in your Will or you could give it to someone and tell them to use the password in the event of your death.
I do love my spreadsheets! I have a spreadsheet for all my relevant information which is password protected. This is a free method and a quick method to put all the information into one place. Excel is an easy tool for most people to use and can be updated quickly and easily.
LatPass is a fantastic tool that I just discovered recently. It allows you to store all your passwords in once place, and you only need to remember one master password. It also allows you to share passwords without anyone having to see the password. This is great to use within your business right now (especially if you have a client based business).
How do you currently record all your information? I would love to know.
Share with me in the comments below