Just over 4 weeks ago I was ticking something off my bucket list that had been there since I was about 7 years old - I was finally going to ride a horse along a beach. This is something I have wanted to do for as long as I can remember, I've always loved horses and always loved to ride but never managed to fulfill this ambition, so we had gone to The Gower for the weekend and I was all booked in to a local stables, and super excited (despite the freezing cold weather!) that this was finally going to happen.
Unfortunately, on our first canter out across the soggy sands, my horse and I experienced a slight difference of opinion, and suddenly the sky was flying overhead and I found myself landing flat on my back on the soggy sand with a considerable bump! Fortunately I was able to finish the ride, but once we got back to the stables I suddenly realised how much pain I was in, and was a bit concerned to realise I was actually finding it quite difficult to walk (hobble may be the more appropriate term!)
Coming back to work Monday morning everything had suddenly changed - I was very slow moving and in a lot of pain, so meetings I had planned in London that week had to be cancelled, I wasn't able to drive for a few days, and walking anywhere took 3 times as long as it normally would, and I was in a lot of discomfort which made concentrating for long periods difficult and was draining my energy - my productivity levels had unexpectedly dropped off a cliff.
It's interesting to see when life unexpectedly throws something at us and forces us to take a step back for a few weeks, how well we're able to cope. How well would the business run if you suddenly weren't there to manage everything? How long could you be away for before the business got into serious trouble? If you weren't there, would anyone else be able to keep it running? Would they know how? Would you trust them?
The reality is that life will throw these unexpected detours/roadblocks at us, that is inevitable, whether it's a week off with flu, an accident/injury, or something in your personal life - a relationship break-up, or a bereavement. It's at exactly these times, when you don't want to be panicking over work and finances and forcing yourself back into the office too quickly, to add to your stress levels. So when you're planning your business it's worth taking a step back to consider how your business might handle an unexpected incident that puts you on half speed for a couple of weeks. Do you have the right systems in place that would keep things ticking over?
I'm fortunate that my business is easy to run from anywhere, for the first week I did the majority of my work on my laptop on the sofa. Client meetings I wasn't able to make got rescheduled or were done via skype instead, and I was able to reschedule meetings in those first few days until I was able to drive again. I also used a triage system to prioritise my tasks and to keep me focussed on getting the most important items done each day, which meant that I focussed my energy solely on my "A's" and everything else got relegated to a "to deal with when back to full speed" list. And now that I am fully recovered that is exactly what I'm doing; I had to revisit my business plan and adjust some expectations and timescales, but in a few weeks time I'll be right back on track.
If you're not sure how well your business would run if you suddenly couldn't come into work tomorrow it's worth taking some time now to think about how you can put some systems in place to minimise the impact of that - the best time to fix a leaky roof is when it's not raining. Often we make the mistake of thinking "Oh, when it gets to the next level it'll take care of itself" but it's rarely that simple, putting systems in place early is MUCH easier than trying to implement them retrospectively and it also means if something did happen, someone else could potentially step in and take over the running of the business relatively smoothly in the interim.