McBride for Business Blog

Illness and the Business Owner

November 27, 2017 // R. Shawn McBride // No Comments »

Maybe you’re ill. Maybe you’re not feeling well. Hopefully, it’s something minor like the flu. But what if it’s something major like a heart attack or cancer. What do you do? If you’ve been following our blog we talk a lot about proactive planning. Planning for making a business bigger than just a single owner. Building robust plans to make things happen.

Hopefully, for most of our clients and business owners that are following us, you’ve worked with professionals to implement a strategy that’s really going to work in the event that you’re unable to be involved in the business, but not everybody has laid out these plans. So what are some emergency things you can do if you suddenly find yourself ill and your business is overly reliant on you?

#1 Make a plan. It should come as no surprise that the first thing to do is to have a plan. I’m a big proponent of planning in so many different contexts, and this is one. When you have a problem, rather than just react in a knee jerk fashion, it’s a great time to sit down and really make a plan. Think about being proactive. Think about the future. I talk in The 3 Laws of Empowerment about preparing, planning and protecting, and this is one of those cases where we’re going to have to jump right into planning because of the timing.

#2 Assess where you are. Do an assessment of where you are. What resources do you have? We take a broad view of resources here. In The 3 Laws of Empowerment,, we talk in terms of preparation and preparing for a plan. Here, at this moment, we need to assess what preparation has been done even though it wasn’t intentional. What money do you have? What skills do your employees have? Who do you have access to? What resources can you possibly rally together in order to help?

#3 Start collecting resources for your plan. Do you know some other experienced business owners that can step in and help you? Do you have employees that are being underutilized that can step up to a higher level? Do you have money to buy outside advisors? You’re going to look at your unique situation and combination of resources to figure out how you’re going to pull things together.

#4 You’re going to start making a plan. You’re going to start plugging holes. Make a list of what you do every day, all of your functions, core, and non-core. The non-core functions should be delegated forever and we should bring new people into doing those. The core functions need to be covered and we need to figure out who’s going to cover them. This may be a great time to build an alliance with another business owner in your community, somebody you respect and trust. See if you can tap them and get them to come over and oversee and work with your team on a part-time basis. This may be the time to build a board of directors. We’ve talked so much about a board of directors in other blogs, but now would be a time to tap on that board of directors to have people come help you.

The key here is that every function’s filled and you probably want to build a structure that has oversight. You don’t want your manager controlling all the finances. We want solid internal controls here. I think back on my days of CPA training and how we talked about separation of functions and controls. That’s going to be key.

#5 Have check and balances. You want to bring your financial team in to talk about who’s doing what and to make sure there are appropriate checks and balances. Just like our federal government has checks and balances, you want to make sure that your team has checks and balances. You cannot delegate all of your authority to any one person. Everyone needs to be cross checking each other to protect your financial interests.

#6 Start implementing your plan and look for issues. See what’s not getting done. See where the problems are cropping up and start plugging holes. Depending on the nature of your illness, this may be difficult, which is one of the reasons we advocate for early planning. But get your team involved. Make sure they’re looking for all the holes and that everything’s getting covered. You really want great employees that care about the customer and the final outcome here to be advising you.

Becoming ill is not fun, particularly for a long term disease or condition. The best we can do for your business is to try to keep it moving forward. We obviously want to protect the economic value at the time of your need and we want to make sure that the company’s moving forward.

Involving others is the key. Now we just have to do it on an expedited basis. We need to divide the authority and we need to build a plan that really works to make sure that everybody’s moving forward and we want to get the right advisors involved to make sure that there are checks and balances. We don’t want any one person to be able to take advantage of the situation.

Where are you at in this plan? Are you caught off guard by your illness? Are you having some difficulties? Do you need some help in the plan? Join us in the comments below and let us know what your experience has been.


Make sure you download our free checklist to assess your business.  

This posting is intended to be a tool to familiarize readers with some of the issues discussed herein.  This is not meant to be a comprehensive discussion and additional details should be discussed with your attorneys, accountants, consultants, bankers and other business planners who can provide advice for your circumstances. Each case is unique.  Past results do not guarantee future outcomes. This article should not be treated as legal advice to any person or entity. typofi. 


About the Author

R. Shawn McBride is the Chief Innovation Officer at McBride For Business, LLC. His signature keynote, The 3 Laws of Empowerment, gives audiences an entertaining look at how they can prepare, plan and protect themselves. You can email R. Shawn McBride or (214) 418-0258.

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