Course Creators: Do You Need a Business Continuity Plan?

You're a course creator. Whether you have one course or a curriculum, this is how you make your living, and it may even be your legacy.

But what happens to your course business if something happens to you? 

In this post Sarah Arrow shares what happened in her husband's 7 figure business when he had an unexpected near-death experience.

Business Continuity Plan Near Death

Sarah here, guest posting at Content Sparks. Today, I want to share with you my journey as a course creator and how I protect my business. 

It's Starts in Devon, England

It's a wet Saturday in July 2012 and we're having a family weekend together. My husband is a little grouchy. He didn't want to come away for the weekend, he didn't want to look around Devon with me and the girls, but as he's the only driver... He has no choice. I'm expecting push back. He's worried about the business and if clients want ad-hoc deliveries. The phone is glued to his hand. Who said weekends away were going to be easy?

So we're in a damp Devon and my husband is grumpy.

He starts to complain about stomach ache, and I'll confess to being annoyed with him. Our daughters never had weekends away, so why can't he just behave for 3 days and make it nice? Why is he fixated on whether the business phone will ring or not? What kind of memories are ones of him clutching his tummy and groaning loudly in pain?

We go back to the hotel. I'm unhappy. We've not had a break for a long time and why can't Kevin stop complaining? It's just one weekend... 

12 hours later, after a sleepless night, I'm driving him to hospital. We hit a few curbs on the way, and he's clutching his stomach and vomiting out of the window. I'd like to think he was really sick, but deep down I felt it was an over reaction to my driving.

I pull up outside Accident and Emergency at Torbay Hospital

My stomach sinks.

Kevin has been to this hospital before, and he hates it. But he opens the door, staggers in, and collapses. Sirens go off, and he's surrounded by people. 

I park the car to the best of my ability and then ring the relatives we are meant to visit today.  His brother comes to collect the kids and I walk back into A&E.

Kevin is on a stretcher and they've given him morphine for the pain. His appendix has ruptured and he is moments from the poison from the appendix entering his bloodstream. The hospital is flying in a surgeon in an attempt to save his life, but it will be touch and go. 

You can imagine how I feel right now.

He was seriously ill, and I'd thought he was complaining because he didn't want to come away with us.

I spent a long time reflecting on how mean I'd been.  I realised I'm not a doctor, and he's a grown adult male who could've insisted on the hospital sooner.  So I forgave myself and focused on what happens next.

Operation obviously, and Kevin will recover. There was no scenario explored where Kevin did not recover. I refused to think it.  But what does that recovery look like? How long will it take? What will he able to do? Where will he need help? Who will keep the business going?

Who Runs the Business?

Oh shit. I'd forgotten about the business. The business that was so demanding that hubby felt he couldn't take a weekend away.  Who will do the deliveries for Fords on Monday? Who will organise the drivers? And invoice customers so we have money coming in?

So whilst my husband is lying on the operating table and a surgeon is fighting to save him, I'm trying to figure out what to do next in his business. 

If only there had been a business continuity plan in place, I'd know who to ring and what to do next... But there was nothing. The business meant everything to him, and I had to do my best to save it as apparently Kevin would need 18 months to fully recover. Oh, he'll be up and walking the next day if the surgeon saves him, but he needs 18 months of care and attention to be his normal self. 

What am I going to do?

I rang Fords and said emergency deliveries only, lied and said Kevin was having a minor procedure and would be out of action for 24 hours. I rang the drivers and told them for the next week they were to ring me. I rang the hotel, and they moved heaven and earth to keep us in our room (they were fully booked) so we could stay in Devon, I rang relatives and arranged for them to look after the kids so I could visit the hospital. And I rang Kevin's 75 year old dad who immediately booked a train to come to Devon.

I should've rang the relatives sooner, but my only thoughts were of Kevin and saving the business that he loved so much. Note to self, create a list of people to ring in emergency... And get someone else to ring them.

What about the dog?

And then I remembered we have a dog in kennels for the weekend. So I rang my eldest daughter and arranged for her to collect the dog. I didn't tell her why or she would've got on the train (with the dog) and arrived at the fully-booked hotel ready to move in. 

After the Operation

Kevin is recovering nicely in a hospital robe. More mental notes - buy him a bath robe. He can't sleep in just his boxer shorts in the hospital. 
Buy him some slippers. Buy him some food. He hates hospital food. He'll never get out if I don't bring him in meals. 

And then the phone rang

My mental list making stops, and I look up to see Kevin answering the phone and taking down the details for a delivery! He says "bye" and starts to ring a driver.

Here he is, in a hospital bed, 4 hours after a major operation and he is arranging a fricking delivery! What's wrong with this picture?

We Didn't Have a Business Continuity Plan

I didn't know what to do next as I didn't expect my 39 year old husband to almost die from rupturing his appendix. We needed a business continuity plan and not mental lists that expand exponentially. We needed something proper in place, and we needed it all before the near death experience and not after. After is too late.

We Didn't Lose the Business

But the business lost us. 

I spent that week in Devon removing the phone from Kevin's hand at every opportunity. I asked him to consider what our next steps were. I didn't ever want something to happen to him where he had to work from the hospital bed. What could I do to help? His answer was "Learn to drive".

I spent the next 5 months doing different things - outsourcing more, ramping up my content business and ensuring that we took the girls for a proper holiday, one where their dad wasn't in pain and he could relax. And it most certainly wasn't going to be Devon!

Did We Learn The Lesson?

Hell no! We're in Lanzarote, by the pool, and Kevin is still on the phone directing drivers and arranging deliveries. The girls are swimming and I'm sipping a small beer under a parasol. Kevin can't even enjoy the family holiday designed for him to rest.

But Something Does Change

He wants to be with me and the girls more than he wants the business. He comes and sits next to me and says "The business is going. I need to work out an exit plan, and I want a business where I can always be with you and the girls. We need to plan it properly, and we need to have a plan in place for when things go wrong, because we're not getting any younger and things will start to go wrong". That's when the Online Visibility Academy was born.

What Does Our Business Continuity Plan Look Like?

I'm not going to share that, because it's ours and unique to us and our business. But I will tell you that after the sections on natural emergencies, there's a section on what to do in the event one of us dies. It's tied to an insurance policy that gives the survivor enough to take a year off of the business. Since 2012, we've become very close. We do everything together. And if one of us isn't there? The other will feel the void that is left behind. We've planned a year of grieving with no financial worries. There will be no picking up the phone, there will be no calling clients - it's all taken care of. It will be done of course, but not by the surviving person. That's the human part of our continuity plan. 

We Didn't Plan for the Pandemic

But we were prepared for a major shift in our audience. We got through things fine, and part of that was ensuring that we used quality suppliers like Content Sparks.

Your Business Continuity Plan

Your business continuity plan isn't just about if you shuffle off of this mortal coil. It's about if you're unexpectedly flooded, or there's a global pandemic...

If something happens to you, can someone pick up where you left off? Can they continue your business as you recover? Or will you be taking calls from your hospital bed?

Course Creators and Business Continuity Plans

As course creators, we have a lot of digital assets and a lot of things that we do can be automated. But do we have a plan? 

The answer is no. We don't plan for the worst because we are all optimists. We are to happy to help our students, clients and customers  - but what about us? How do we help ourselves?

Create a Business Continuity Plan With Your Students

Imagine for a moment you can teach your audience how to create a business continuity plan. You don't have to wait for a near death experience. And we've already experienced a global pandemic so your audience will be thinking about this already.  Imagine teaching them from slides where you just have to add in your own experience and branding. The heavy-lifting of creating from scratch is done for you. You hand out your course book to your students, and you start delivering your course...

All of this is possible with the Content Sparks course kits!

Create a Business Continuity Plan

Learn & Teach Your Audience.

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