Perhaps crises and catastrophes tend to stalk small businesses more than others because of the nature of small businesses – we’re scrappy, on-a-shoestring, robbing Peter to pay Paul, etc. The bottom line is that there is never enough time, money or human resources to go around and
You can never have too much and your friendly insurance agent can make sure of that – beware. Some is definitely needed (depending on your field or specialty, e.g., medicine, you may not be able to even hang your shingle without it) but in other cases leveraging a simple umbrella policy that you may already have associated with your homeowner’s policy may suffice. Not sure? Ask your current agent, but also ask your peer group or association for a suggested baseline for your profession – it may save you thousands of dollars in unneeded coverage.
Too important to risk; as a small business owner myself, I have gone all over the map on this – from an expensive retainer model (paying hundreds of dollars a month for a service that made regular calls on me – a sole proprietor) to a do-it-myself model where I, a relatively tech savvy guy, tried to cover my own needs with periodic help calling friends and vendors. I have settled on a mid-range option and, unless you have a business that is excessively dependent on servers and other IT firepower, I propose you do so as well.
First, I examined what my needs were – and weren’t. Really, though I think my work is extremely important, there is nothing that is so critical that I can’t get by with an automated off-site back-up solution (I use Carbonite). Adopting this approach across the board for my IT needs, most of my customization evaporated and I was left with items that I truly was not an expert at managing and needed professional help to resolve. Next, scouting around and being as scrutinizing as I encourage my clients to be (in this case, I made sure that the cobbler’s kids DID have shoes!), we found a service provider that was: 1) Local; 2) Recommended and 3) Savvy. I can have this guy to my house usually within hours (assuming he can’t just solve it virtually) and I pay by the hour. We have cut our bills by 2/3 and have more up-time and flexibility.
Probably the most important and crisis-driven area (think reputation risk, face to your clients, embezzlement risk, etc.); in essence, people can be
Do it all yourself as long as you can before quality of the product or service suffers and before your ability to grow is negatively affected;
When it’s time to add people, know beforehand what you need and don’t settle for the first one that comes along – these initial folks should be contractors, if possible so that you can flex and contract without the burden of a permanent payroll hanging over your head;
Finally, when the demand is there and you can justify bringing people on full-time, put together a comprehensive interviewing AND reference/background check process – nothing stops a company in their tracks like the hiring of a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
The above are three no-brainer items to consider; there are more, but these can be ways for your company to experience healthy, repeatable success – or stumble and potentially fail.