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Would your business survive if you couldn’t work?

Safety net for your business

Do you have enough money in your business for it to survive should you be unable to work?

You never know when life is going to trip you up or cause a temporary derailment to your business.

I have two clients who have had to take time off work because of parents being ill or needing additional support. And as we get older, that’s a problem more and more of us face.

Then I was really shocked and saddened to read a post in a group I’m in on Facebook about a well-known marketing expert who has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
She’s been undergoing major treatment and will be off work for a considerable time.

As she says on her crowdfunding page (more on this later) she doesn’t have critical illness cover and she is the centre of her business. And she is naturally worried that there will be nothing to come back to once she’s recovered and ready to pick up the reins again.

My clients are also the centre of their business and without them, there is no business.

Her story really made me think about how perilous our business life can be and what steps we can take to protect ourselves should something come along that stops us from running our business and potentially taking away our livelihoods.

What you can do to protect your business

1. Build up reserves

This is such an important one for me and one that so many business owners don’t do.
Fortunately, my clients have built up reserves to see them through quieter times.

You should aim for at least three months of running costs. I have three accounts for my business:

My current account.
I only keep in here the money that I need to pay my costs each month

A VAT and tax account.
Every time an invoice is paid, I put away 20% for VAT and 20% for tax into this account. This has two benefits. Most importantly, I know I will have the money to pay my VAT bill. And secondly, my business owes me a lot of money from when I bought a franchise, so at the moment, until I pay that back, my tax bill is pretty small. So it acts as a savings pot, but it’s a good discipline to get into.

I absolutely insist my clients have and use their own VAT/Tax account. It’s not our money to spend, so put it away.

Profit account.
No matter how little I might earn in a month, I always salt some money away into this account. Anything that’s over and above my monthly running costs goes in there once I’ve put away my VAT and tax money. Even if it’s only £20. Every mickle makes a muckle as we say up North.

By putting the money away each month, gets you into a saving habit. And psychologically you’re far less tempted to make (rash) purchasing decisions if you see a healthy amount in your current account.

Having that money saved gives you options:
– As a buffer to cover the peaks and troughs of monthly revenue or
– to allow you to take your foot off the pedal if you need to and
– is a source of funds for when you need to invest in your business.

2. Work on ways to remove yourself from being the centre of your business

I bang on all the time about outsourcing so I’m not going to go chapter and verse about it here. Here are two other articles I have written on the subject.



I’m doing some research at the moment and a key message that is coming through is ‘I wish I’d hired sooner’.

Whatever you may think you are not the only person who can do your work unless what you do is so niche that there really isn’t anyone else who can do it. I’m thinking tadpole nanny, gerbil milker, jedi, Star Trek transporter engineer.

There are of course sensible exceptions to this rule – Maria Forleo being one of them. But she has made an informed decision to be at the centre of her business. She does, however, surround herself by a team to support her and has online courses that will generate revenue even if she’s not working.

My book is based on the premise that everyone should create a business that is sellable, whether or not you want to sell it. And there are eight factors that make it sellable. One of them is to remove you as the linchpin.

A brilliant book to help you on that journey is Clockwork – Design your business to run itself

I highly recommend you read it – my clients love it.

3. Consider critical illness cover or keyman insurance

These types of insurance pay you if you are ill or need to be off work. I’m not an expert on the subject, but here’s a really useful article on keyman insurance

Finally, back to the crowdfunding page

Bryony Thomas has written the most excellent book – ‘Watertight Marketing – Delivering long term sales-results’ and runs Watertight Marketing helping business owners with end to end marketing.
She has set up a crowdfunding page to raise funds to help her keep her business running whilst she’s going through her treatment.
If you’d like to donate to support her and read her story – here’s the link.

P.S. Please note the links to the books have affiliate codes attached to them – you don’t pay any more, but I will get a small commission for any sales using the link


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About the Author:

About Karen Espley, blogging for The Chameleon GuideKaren Espley of The Chameleon Guide works with ambitious small business owners on her Profit Accelerator Programme. She brings pragmatic and real world advice in a group setting to help her clients make a significant difference to their business through increasing profits and running a highly effective business.

Offering workshops and group profit programmes for companies wanting to reach their full potential.