The cafe in our building is closed for a few weeks. The owner/operator had to go assist a family member for a few weeks. It has left all of us with a conundrum:

Where do we go for lunch?

But it also presents a bigger question. And it’s one that a lot of the businesses I work with face: Can my business function when I’m gone? In this case, the cafe owner is missing documents and systems in place that would allow the cafe to keep operating. Maybe it is a lack of trust in his employees. Or maybe none of the other employees is qualified to do what needs to be done. But the simple fact is that the business is missing out on weeks of revenue due to the operator being gone.

Systems in Place

The first way to solve this conundrum is to have systems in place. Creating a business that is solely dependent on 1 person can be a recipe for disaster. There will be some days when that person is sick. And what if that person wants to take a vacation? The business, especially a retail business that is open daily for customers, should have systems in place to deal with employee absence. Even if that employee is the owner, there should be a system in place.

On top of absence, the business also needs some kind of emergency planning. Who, besides the owner, has access to important information if it’s needed. What if someone needs access to the financial account or bank? Are the passwords kept in a safe place? These are just a few of the things that a business needs to have in place.

Legal Documents

In addition to business systems, it’s also a good idea to have legal documents in place for the business. If there are multiple owners, an agreement between the owners is vital. Who has responsibilities in case one of the other owners is incapacitated? Is one owner in charge of finances while the other is in charge of sales? What if those roles need to be reversed? If changes need to be made, do you need the owners to all agree on it? There can be many different questions that are easily answered by the proper legal documents.

A different set of issues arise if there are non-owners that may need to run the business and deal with certain issues. Especially if a spouse needs to step into the business, a power of attorney can be a useful document to have. It can specify in what circumstances someone else can step in and make decisions for the incapacitated person.

As with most things in life, a little planning goes a long way. Especially with a business, it can make a huge difference when an emergency arises and the business needs to remain open.

Next Steps

If you’re running your business and don’t have your systems and documents arranged the way you would like, or if it’s a good time to review if what you have is suited for you, call my office to set up a meeting and we can review the best options for you – (877) AMAYERS.

Andrew Ayers
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I work with business and estate planning clients to craft legal solutions to protect their legacies.