Article: June Campbell

The Small Business Library

December 8, 2000

Are You Being Irresponsible to Your Business?

This week someone asked me to identify how I was being irresponsible to my business. My first reaction was denial. I am not irresponsible. I work long hours. My middle name could be "Responsible", for goodness sake.

Then I thought of something. I have no backup person to look after my business should I become sick or otherwise unable to keep up business activities for a time. That's irresponsible. Sure, I have excuses. I don't have a business partner nor do I want one. My nearest and dearest lack the computer know-how to run my business for me. And on and on. Nevertheless, until I find a solution, I am putting my business at risk and that's irresponsible. My resolution this year is to find a way to meet this challenge.

What about you? Are you doing (or not doing) something that puts your business at risk? The following list is not inclusive, but these all-to-common practices are irresponsible to your business:

  1. Are you neglecting to backup your computer files on a regular basis?
    As my computer consultant reminds me, hard drives crash. It's not "if." It's "when." If your computer crashes, do you the email addresses of those 10,000 people who subscribe to your ezine? Do you have copies of your business contacts, your customers and their contact information? What about your accounting documents, your business plan, your marketing budget? Can you afford to lose all of this? True, a data recovery specialist might be able to restore your data -- but it won't be quick and it wont be cheap. If you do have a backup, is it stored beside your computer? If it is, in the event of fire or theft, your backup will disappear along with your computer.

  2. Are you running updated virus protection software on your computer?
    If not, a virus can wipe out the contents of your hard drive and do numerous acts of mischief to your system. IF you have a recent backup, you will only lose a few days time getting everything up and running again. Without a backup -- well, you get the picture.

  3. Do you have a business plan and do you update your financials on a yearly basis? Do you develop an annual Cash Flow sheet? An annual sales forecast and an annual Income Summary sheet? These management tools make the difference between having a well-planned business and flying by the seat of your pants. If you don't' know how to do these tasks, any book on business planning will show you what you need to know.

  4. Are you keeping your accounting books up to date and accurate?
    Are you reconciling your business bank account every month? Do you have your receipts safely filed away in case of a tax audit? If you don't know how to do accounting, consider hiring an accountant to set up your books and show you how to enter your data. The accounting fee you'll pay is money well spent.

  5. Do you have a communications system in place that works effectively?
    Do you have a system of voice messaging and email forwarding that assures that business related messages will reach the correct person"? Or will they be lost by someone accidentally pushing the Delete key on an answering machine? Do all members of your business know how to operate your communications system?

  6. Are you taking the time to update your skills and remain current in your field? If attending workshops and courses is too time consuming, consider alternative methods such as Internet training, correspondence courses, telephone training conferences, or Distance Learning.

Now add your own items to this list. What can you resolve to do differently?

June Campbell's writing has appeared in several international print and online publications. Her web site offers a number of resources to small businesses - including guides for proposal writing, business plan development and more.
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