We all know about hiccups. We have all had them. They are sudden, involuntary contractions of the diaphragm muscle. As the muscle contracts repeatedly, the opening between the vocal cords snaps shut to check the inflow of air and makes the hiccup sound. Everyone’s hiccup sound is different but we all know immediately when someone has them.

Businesses’ can have the hiccups, too. The sound is usually a little less audible (but sounds more like a groan) but none the less just as irritating and frustrating as human hiccups. If not reacted to quickly and positively the ramifications can be devastating.

We recently experienced a Hiccup in the business. It came suddenly and involuntarily and it certainly was very unwelcomed. It happened when I was diagnosed with cancer. We were just a few months away from the beginning of our busiest time of year (year end and tax season) and I was facing surgery, recovery from surgery, and then radiation and chemo therapy treatments. I had limited time to prepare.

I had a disaster recovery plan that included what to do for weather, fire, and floods/water damage and for equipment failure but it never occurred to me to plan for the loss of a key player at an inopportune time. Because of my lack of planning work was slow to be completed which caused frustrations through the office and with the clients. We are still not sure what the lasting impact of this hiccup will have on the business but I have learned somethings which might help someone else with their hiccup.

Here are 4 suggestions

  1. Identify and include the loss of key personal to your disaster recovery plan. I once read that a small business owner should always be recruiting. They should be aware of people that they come in contact with every day such as in restaurants and stores and offices and make a note of people they think might make a good employee. Then add this information to a personal data base. When or if the time comes you have an immediate source for help.
  2. Cross train employees. That allows someone to step in the gap at least temporarily until the need is resolved. If there is no one else in the company that can do that position, identify sources where potential replacements can be found and have them in a data base that can be accessed quickly.
  3. OVER ESTIMATE how long your hiccup will last. This was probably my biggest mistake. I was too optimistic about how much I was going to be able to do and how soon I would be pulling my load. I was able to come back to work within a few weeks but was unable to work a full day. I had not anticipated this problem.
  4. If adding temporary help make it the right fit for the company. This was another mistake of mine. I brought in temporary help that fit my budget but didn’t have the appropriate background and training. The plan was to invest time in training. It would have been better to bring in someone that could have hit the ground running. It would have kept the work from piling up, everyone’s frustration from mounting, and disappointing the clients. Even if I had to use temporary funding it would have kept things on an even kill and the fear of potential loss business during this time would not have been as great. A word of caution though; the use of debt to support payroll should only be for a brief period or it will financially impact the business creating a different problem.

It is difficult to plan for every possible business interruption. It seems that something will come along that will always take you by surprise. But adding this to the disaster recovery plan might just stop or shorten a hiccup.

On a personal note: Many of you know that I have been battling cancer. Well, I am happy to report, it looks like I am winning. I am not completely out of the woods yet but I have been stable for about six months now and the last images show a slight improvement.

Thank you all for your support and prayers. However, I ask that you keep up the prayers and positive energy until I am cured.