How to Prepare for Coronavirus to Hit the Small Business Owner
By Gina Rubel
Recent weeks have starkly demonstrated the need for every organization to have a crisis communications plan, but one area of planning often gets overlooked: succession planning.
Succession plans often focus on how to exit a business when a small business owner is planning for retirement. However, that is not their only purpose. They also have a critical role to play in defining what should happen if a business owner is incapacitated. This is a vital plan to have in place as we all continue to grapple with the worldwide consequences of the pandemic of novel coronavirus.
To try to help slow or stop the spread of the novel coronavirus and the disease it causes, COVID-19, many businesses have changed their staffing models, including having team members work from home, when possible. However, the public conversation has not yet shifted to the reality of running a small business when some of your team members get sick. And when the person who gets sick is the owner, that adds another layer of concern.
RASCI planning for roles and responsibilities
If your organization has not yet drafted a crisis communications plan, you still should do so now. However, we must acknowledge that the time for typical crisis planning has passed. Now, we have reached the point of dealing with the day-to-day development of what is happening and contemplating what could happen next. As you go through this process, you will end up thinking through some weighty issues, including planning for the chance that you may become ill enough to not be able to oversee your daily business.
No one is invincible. We all need to be thinking about death and redundancy in our day-to-day operations teams. Small business owners are especially susceptible to this vulnerability. In planning for this eventuality, ask yourself:
- What happens if the owner gets sick?
- Who makes the decisions?
- Where are the passwords?
- Who is in charge?
- Does someone have a power of attorney?
One such way to prepare a succession plan is to draft a responsibility assignment plan using RASCI, a decision-making matrix that delineates who does what. RASCI refers to:
Responsible: This is the person in charge of completing or assigning the task.
Accountable: This is the person who ultimately is responsible for the results of the task.
Supportive: This is the person who delivers input that can help the person responsible.
Consulted: This person needs to be asked for feedback, which then needs to be taken into account.
Informed: This person needs to be kept up to date with the tasks and developments.
Lead with your values and guide others to do the same
As you plan to hand off day-to-day leadership tasks to someone else, it is a great time to revisit your corporate values. Who are you as a business, as a corporate citizen, and what messages do you want to communicate during the coronavirus pandemic? All of your internal messages should include messaging that embraces your corporate values and is crystal clear; you do not want to send vague messages that are open to interpretation.
Here at Furia Rubel, we are trying to practice what we preach. For me, that means planning for a time when I might not be available to make daily decisions. While I am healthy, spinning on my Peloton bike at least four times a week, eating healthy, and getting sleep, that doesn’t mean a whole lot when faced with a global pandemic. As a result, I along with our management team, have drafted a responsibility assignment plan using the RASCI matrix. I encourage fellow small business owners to do the same.