When I was first starting to investigate doing business through ‘the cloud’ I was approached by a potential client to provide tax and accounting advice.

My first reaction when we went through his business model was almost one of awe at the high level of automation he had created in his business. It was an online business with payments made at time of purchase, orders sent directly to the supplier for delivery and invoicing and collection being all automatic. It was even a condition of our appointment that there would be no paper and everything was to be done electronically.

Whilst I had seen online businesses and automated processes before, this business was streets ahead and had invested in programs to help automate information flow between the various business functions.

He was one switched on operator.

However the real mind bender came when he revealed that his son, who was around 4 years old at the time, had suffered cancer and spent an extensive time in one of the children’s’ hospitals in Brisbane. Thankfully his son recuperated but one of my discussions with this innovative entrepreneur was around the effect this family crisis had on his business.

Because his business was cloud-based, with large parts of it outsourced and automated, his business not only survived his absence from home and office but it also thrived and continued to grow.

That experience got me thinking about how a family crisis would affect my business as well as my clients’ businesses. Many small businesses rely heavily on the input of the owners. So what would happen if a family crisis struck and meant that the owner was unavailable?

Sure, there are insurance options to cover the financial side but insurance doesn’t help customer service and making sure things happen the way they should in the owner’s absence. A drop in business means a decline in the value of your business which is usually one of your largest investments.

There were several reasons why this client’s business succeeded, including:

  • Automation: The use of technology to automate processes meant he didn’t have to personally attend to or deal with many processing tasks;
  • Outsourcing: The use of outsourced services meant he didn’t have staff to worry about; and
  • Cloud-Based Flexibility: Being a cloud-based business he was able to access his information and continue to work, albeit at a lower level of commitment, from anywhere, anytime.

In short, he had structured his business to run itself without his day to day involvement. Not only did it ensure his business survival, it also meant that once his son recovered, his lifestyle was the envy of many.

Ask yourself this right now: “How well would my business survive a family crisis?”

If you don’t like the answer to that question, the time to act is now.

If a crisis hits, it will be too late.