Wednesday, 04 January 2012 00:00

In case of emergency

This article first appeared August 10, 2011.


Recently, my partner was rushed to hospital. After a gruelling day in the emergency department I arrived home to our dark, empty house, with that sense of fear that comes from loved ones being ill.


As I looked around, I had the surreal experience of imagining the worst, and realising that I had inadvertently delegated a good portion of the operational part of my life to someone else.


I knew the night the bins went out, but I had no idea where the finances were at, what was an automated payment and what had to be regularly managed, or where our wills were kept.


When it came to car rego, insurance, land and water rates, managing our half-finished renovations and their myriad planning approvals – simply no clue.


I climbed into bed horrified and realised that I had inadvertently behaved around my domestic business like I did in my professional business and outsourced the elements that were not my forte.  When I thought about our domestic life as a business, I realised I classically did marketing, social media, PR, HR, sales, events and strategy.


Unlike my professional life, where I had paid for someone else to do the things I was less competent at, like financial management, but was across the detail, I had totally abandoned the detail at the expense of the situation I found myself in now.


The beginning point for many mumpreneur businesses is anchored in both the business and the domestic. The kitchen table is your office. The computer is variously shared with partners and children and order fulfillment happens around the feeding, bathing and sleeping patterns of your household.


Amidst this backdrop, it is easy for the clean lines of work and home to blur, and the discipline of business management to become its own grey area.


The homework from today’s blog is to undertake a quick audit of your lives, and see if, like me, you have both your houses in order if the unexpected happened.


Have you ignored, neglected, outsourced or delegated a critical part of your business or life such that you have lost control of it? Do you confidently know exactly where your basic operational necessities like tax, registration, insurance, operations manuals, business planning, key documents etc. are at and can access in an instant?


Have you a business partner or staff that “look after that side of the business” that don’t document what they do or brief you regularly? If you were taken out of the business, can your role be replaced easily and the business continuity be assured?


Much as we tend to shy away from preparing for worst-case scenarios, when they happen, in life and in business, the consequences can be devastating. I was fortunate that my scare turned out to be just a scare.


I made it a call to arms, however, for getting my business in order – and more importantly communicating to others that I relied on or relied on me, considering and managing future risks – and being very mindful of maximising the joy and purpose in every part of my day.

Dr Polly McGee a co-founder of Startup Tasmania, which aids fast-growth start-ups in the state. She’s behind the MumpreneurIDEAS program, a one day workshop that assists women to start-up and is also a senior lecturer in Commercialisation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Tasmania in their MBA and undergraduate program. 

Comments (1)

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Polly - I had a business associate run into a similar situation last year; it opened my eyes, and let me realize that I, and many of my clients, face the same dilemma. I wrote up a checklist for small businesses that I refer my small business clients to, here:

We also have a downloadable business continuity checklist form, to help small business owners process and organize their business information to ensure business survival in the case of a catastrophic event. Given scenarios like what's currently happening to SME's in the UK, it's a good idea to keep such a plan up-to-date on a regular basis.
IndigoTea , August 11, 2011
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