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  • Writer's pictureMelissa A. Youngman

Weekend Vibes: Plan for It & Stop the Weekend Worries

Thanks to Hurricane Ian, I’ve spent too many recent days worrying – surveying every potentially stressful situation, racking my brain for solutions, and diving deep into all the what-ifs. This is the life of a business owner. When you hang your shingle, there is no barrier or security blanket between you and what I call “Circumstances.” You know what “Circumstances” I’m referring to - all those situations or events entirely outside of your control that profoundly affect your life and business and usually seem unforeseeable (although most are not).

What’s the best way to prevent “Circumstances” from derailing your dream – your little shingled space in the world – the place you created to help all the people sent your way? I have found, both as a lawyer serving businesses and as a business owner myself, that the best way to stop those weekend worries is through planning.

From a personal perspective, Hurricane Ian solidified the concept of safety found in planning for me.

Having a written hurricane safety plan got my son and me through Ian. We were on our own for the storm. (My husband was out of state on a fishing trip and unable to return.) To ease anxiety, I wrote out a simple safety plan and put it on the fridge. Anytime my son or I stressed, we just went to the refrigerator and re-read the plan. It worked. Knowing the steps we would take, if needed, cut most of the fear out of the situation.

Although you cannot plan for every specific “Circumstance” your business may face, you can make plans that will anchor your business through the most uncertain of times by reflecting on what types of situations may arise and making a written plan. Many “Circumstances” that seem unforeseeable are not that unforeseeable with enough prior reflection. (Example: hurricanes in Florida).

When business owners come to me, whether they are just starting up or seeking to expand, I often recommend that they take a fair amount of time to reflect on their business and what types of things could happen that may keep them from accomplishing their goals (including “Circumstances” outside of their control) to assess their planning needs.

Most small and medium-sized business owners have heard of a business plan and may even have one. However, the business plans I see come in the door usually are missing key components to help the business through “Circumstances.” Often, boilerplate plans found on the internet or through legal document preparation websites fail to provide well for the unique needs of a specific business. In addition, these “one size fits all” plans typically do not provide planning for disasters or other seemingly unforeseeable events.

No matter what stage of life your business is in, it’s always a good time to evaluate the planning you have in place to make sure it fits your business’s needs. Questions to ask include:

1. What steps will we take if my business loses power, internet, or phones for a prolonged period?

2. What steps will we take if a key player can no longer perform his/her duties?

3. What steps will we take if we lose a large client?

4. What steps will we take if we experience a data breach or ransomware attack?

5. What steps will we take if our business listing on internet search sites is removed due to changes in the search engine’s policies or for other reasons?

6. What steps will we take if an employee or contractor steals from the business?

7. What steps will we take if an employee or contractor commits actions that expose the business to potential liability?

8. What types of insurance does the business have in place, and are there additional policies we should consider (i.e., cyberattack insurance)?

9. What steps will we take if one of the equity members of the business wants to leave?

10. What steps will we take if there is another pandemic?

11. What steps will we take to ensure our confidential, proprietary information remains confidential?

12. What steps will we take to ensure that our customers lists, pricing models, and marketing strategies remain confidential?

13. What steps will we take to protect the business's intellectual property?

14. What steps will the business take to protect its brand in the marketplace?

15. What steps will the business take if it wishes to expand?

16. What steps will the business take to ensure it complies with all state and federal laws and regulations that may affect the company?

17. What steps with the business take if HR issues arise?

18. What steps will the business take if its premises are destroyed by fire or other disasters?

19. What steps will the business take if it wants to provide equity to employees?

20. What steps will the business take if it becomes the subject of litigation?

21. What steps will the business take if one of the equity members passes away or becomes permanently indisposed and unable to run the business?

There are likely many other variables to consider, as well. This list is simply meant as a starting place. Take the time now to reflect on the type of “Circumstances” your business may encounter and put written plans in place. At the very least, knowing the steps you will take can provide peace during stressful events, and hopefully, if well thought-out, they can provide the way out of the storm.

If you would like help evaluating and assessing your business’s planning needs, click the button below to schedule a free consultation with Melissa Youngman Law.

Melissa Youngman Law provides legal services to businesses throughout Central Florida.

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