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Have you thought of your contingency plans?
What would you do in the event of a national disaster that destroys your home? What would you do if all of a sudden, without any warning, you lose all your office equipment?
What would you do if something happened to a loved one and you had to drop everything for who knows how long to be by their side?
What if you were hit by a car on the way home from the grocery store and end up in the hospital for several weeks. What would you do?
Any of these events could happen and prevent your business from functioning. That’s where a contingency plan comes into play.
What is a Contingency Plan?
The easiest way to define a contingency plan is to refer to it as a “plan B” for your business in the event of a setback. A contingency plan creates a clear path, a course of action to get your business through a hardship.
All of the scenarios I described above are pretty harsh, but a contingency plan doesn’t have to be. It just needs a bit of time and foresight to prepare. Here are some steps to help you with yours.
Identify triggers that could affect your design business.
Imagine different scenarios that could affect your business. I’ve shared a few with you already, but there could be many more. Each situation will require it’s own contingency plan.
- What will you do if you lose your office or all your equipment?
- What will you do if a loved one requires you and you can’t work?
- What will you do if you are incapacitated and cannot work?
- What will you do if a trusted contractor suddenly disappears?
- What will you do if your electricity goes out or the internet goes down?
- What will you do if, for one reason or another, your business has a setback?
You need to identify these triggers before you can figure out a plan to cope with them. Discuss this with family and friends; they may think of something you haven’t.
Create a contingency plan for each trigger.
Once you identify the various triggers that could impact your design business, the next step is to figure out what actions you will need to take to get over the hurdles.
No one’s contingency plans are identical, but there are a few things you should consider including in yours.
- Your plan to notify clients of your situation.
- Your plan to deal with approaching deadlines you can no longer meet.
- Your plan to reach out to fellow designers if you need someone to take over a project for you.
- Your plan to acquire new equipment for your office if it needs replacing.
Set a timeline to help you carry out your plans. What steps will you need to take in the hours, days and possibly weeks after your contingency plan is triggered?
Who to involve.
If you have business partners, they should be involved in the creation of your contingency plan since your absence affects them. Make sure they have all the information they need to handle your side of the business until you are back.
In the event of an emergency, you should have someone you can trust to contact your clients on your behalf and inform them of the situation. The last thing you want to be doing during an emergency is talking to clients.
Protecting yourself before anything happens.
There's already enough to worry about with whatever scenario you’re dealing with, and the last thing you need is more hardship that could affect your business. Protect yourself as best you can by setting the following in place beforehand.
Protect yourself in your contract.
You should have a clause in your contract that states any natural disasters, acts of god or family emergency that affects your ability to fulfil your end of the agreement automatically negates the contract. You can also offer a full refund to the client should you need to enforce this clause.
Insurance to cover your office equipment.
You probably have home/tenant insurance to protect your dwelling but does it adequately protect your business assets if you are running a home-based design business? Most home insurance companies will reimburse you for the value of your loss, not the amount it will cost to replace that loss. The money you will receive from the loss of a five-year-old computer will not be enough for you to purchase new equipment. Talk to your insurance company and see if you can include a rider on your policy that will reimburse you the current replacement costs of your losses.
Emergency Line of credit.
A line of credit can help you purchase new equipment or replace lost income due to an unforeseen business shutdown. A line of credit will allow you to pay your bills and make any needed purchases while you are waiting for insurance money to arrive.
In the event of a natural disaster or theft, and off-site backup is crucial for maintaining your client and personal files. Services such as Dropbox, Google Drive, and Backblaze are essential for all home-based design businesses.
Safety deposit box.
A Safety deposit box is useful for storing backup drives and essential documents about your business. And you can claim it as a tax write-off.
Create your contingency plans
Creating contingency plans for something you hope never happens is not fun, but if you take the time to plan for the worst, it could mean the difference between your business failing or your business surviving in the aftermaths of whatever unforeseeable event you face.
Think about the various events that could affect your design business and come up with your contingency plans to get through them.
Do you have contingency plans for your design business?
Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.
Questions of the Week
Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.
This week’s question comes from Kristy
Before I went off on my own, I used to work as an in-house designer at a local print shop. I got along very well with everyone except one person who would continually go out of his way to cause huge problems for both myself and others. After I left, there was apparently a huge fight between him and the boss and he ended up walking out. Now, he is asking if I still do design work and if can design business cards for him. I need a polite way to tell him that I absolutely do not want to work with him in any capacity that will hopefully end the conversation without further discussion. Thanks in advance!
To find out what I told Kristy you’ll have to listen to the podcast.
Resource of the week Amazon Prime Day
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Here's a list of just a few of the items you may be interested in.
Note: Resourceful Designer is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon products.
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I want to help you.
Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business, please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org