The Importance of Creating a Contingency Plan with Nikki Stock

What happens if YOU are unavailable in your business?

Do you know someone who can take over in the interim?

Or would your business fall to the ground?

Sometimes things happen within our personal lives that can affect our business, but how do we keep our business running, even when we are not feeling up to it ourselves?

I recently spoke with my friend Nikki Stock on The Social Brain Podcast to discuss the importance of having a contingency plan in both your life and business. 

Prefer to listen to the audio version of our conversation? Go here

Nikki Stock’s love of contingency plans comes from her personal experience. She’d been running a brand new business for about 6 months with her partner when he went into hospital for a routine procedure. Whilst in recovery, Nikki noticed a lump on his neck. Sadly, he was diagnosed with a rare, incurable cancer in January 2011.

A year after her husband’s diagnosis and months spent backwards and forwards to hospital, Nikki’s body decided she’d had enough. She ended up with acute respiratory failure, was put on a life support machine, in a coma for 14 days and died twice during that time. Thankfully for Nikki, she survived, though the months to recovery were long. 

Brain fog, exhaustion and memory loss meant Nikki was unable to return to work as she had before. This is where a contingency plan needed to come in.

Why are contingency plans essential for all business owners?

A contingency plan contains information on how to run every aspect of your business, if you are not able to. From simple things like how to top up the franking machine to how to move stock from the warehouse to the distribution centre, it covers every process, so that if someone cannot show up for their role, there’s a clear plan to follow to keep the business running as normal. 

Business aside, creating a contingency plan for your personal life is also a good idea if you have children or are the main person who runs your household. This way, in times of crisis, like Nikki experienced, the other people in your house know how to keep things going without you.

How to get started with creating a business contingency plan

Nikki advises: “Start at the roles that you play in your life. I'm a mum, I'm an employer, I'm this, that, and the other. I kept a journal of what I did every month for a month. And then I looked at all the obvious things. So, this is who the mortgage is with, the insurance is with; all that written down. And then I looked at the many, many bank accounts that we had. You've got your business bank accounts and your personal bank accounts and they were all documented with the passwords.”

Think about the steps you’d need to take in an emergency. Who has power of attorney? Who needs to contact clients if you’re out of action? What invoices need paying, when? Document everything in a book or spreadsheet that can only be accessed by the people you choose to share it with. 

Other things you may want to consider as part of your contingency plan for your business are things like what the customer journey is, and when stock might need to be reordered. Creating a procedure for each aspect of your business will give you reassurance that things can run without you, and will also benefit your staff, who can simply pick up the procedure manual and get on with what needs to be done.

How do you keep your contingency plan safe and secure?

Not everybody is digitally minded so it may be a good idea to have a physical copy of the information as well as an online file. The physical book can be placed in a safety deposit box or in a home safe.

Having it secured somewhere digitally is also a good idea. Save it as an encrypted file with a very secure password and only share that password with the people who’d be there to support you through a crisis. 

How often do you need to update your contingency plan?

If you’re a service-based business, it’s likely you’ll have new clients coming and going often, so it’s important you keep your business contingency plan up to date regularly. Amending your client list can be done when a new client arrives and a client you’ve completed with leaves. But aside from that, checking your contingency plan is up to date can be done just twice per year. 

When it comes to personal contingency plans, you may wish to have all your policies renew around the same time (i.e. home insurance, car insurance) so that you can update your contingency plan just once per year. 

Whilst creating a contingency plan for your business and personal life may feel time consuming, once you’ve created the initial plan, all you need to do is keep it up to date. The benefits of having these plans in place definitely outweigh the initial time investment.

Nikki is currently working on creating contingency plan template documents, so follow her on social media to keep your eye out for those.

Nikki Stock is a straight talking business strategist who doesn’t sugar-coat what you need to hear. She’ll give you a gentle nudge to get you on track with your goals and become your biggest cheerleader as you achieve the success you deserve.

Follow Nikki on Instagram, LinkedIn and visit her website here.


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