Can Your Online Business Survive Without You?

“The strange thing is that everyday, we see people dying – but don’t actually believe we will.” – Anonymous

We read about it in the newspapers. We hear it on the news. We see it on television. Sudden, unexpected death. Caused by accidents, disasters, and disease.

Yet until it strikes close to home, we tend to filter it out through a “can’t happen to us” filter, which keeps uncomfortable news at arms’ length. But closing your eyes and burying your head in the sand like an ostrich is not always a good business strategy!

So, as uncomfortable as it may be, I’m going to talk today about how to disaster-proof your online business.

Your Online Business Deserves Protection

You have worked hard building it. You have overcome incredible hurdles and challenges along the way. You took all this trouble hoping to create something that will last, thrive and spin off profits for a long time to come. Maybe fund your retirement. Even leave a legacy or annuity to your heirs.

But what if something went wrong all of a sudden – and no one else knows what to do?

It’s time to re-structure things right now in a way that will leave your business in a shape and position to continue to chug along – even if you are not around to manage it actively as before. Let’s discuss this broadly under four categories:

1. Assets

Like any other offline business, your Internet based enterprise has assets. Just as a store on High Street has a building, inventory, furniture, equipment and more, your website based business has assets that need to be maintained and protected.

  • Domain names
  • Web hosting server
  • Email addresses
  • Autoresponders and lists
  • Payment processors
  • Tools and scripts
  • Digital (or even physical) products
  • Web content
  • Online databases and backups

And there are many more things that you’ll identify when you sit down to list them. Assets that you have simply taken for granted all along, but that someone new to your business won’t even understand, appreciate or value correctly – unless you tell them.

2. Operations

This is an even more complex and critical area, because operations are at the core of your online business activities and cannot be ignored for a long time without costing you heavily. On the one hand, you have operations that serve your clients and customers. On the other hand, there are operations that run your business.

Customer focused operations include marketing, delivering products as promised and managing customer service issues. With smart planning and structure, you could have outsourced workers and automation handle most of these steps – but still you need to have them documented, and made available to a successor or care-taker, so that your business can be managed even without you at the helm.

Business-centric operations are those where you deal with suppliers or vendors, pay your providers for services, and manage employees or outsourced workers for whatever part they play in your enterprise. These are often set up on automated billing arrangements through your credit card or other financing systems. This means unless you are careful about documenting these processes, your business could end up paying out cash without any way of bringing it back in.

3. Networks

The assets of your business are not always tangible. Some of the most precious are intangible, like people in your network – your advisers and mentors, clients and customers, fans and evangelists, suppliers and affiliate partners.

And depending upon how actively and personally you engage with this network, it may be vital to have someone take up the reins immediately in case you are disabled, and continue to nurture these connections and keep them alive.

That’s why you should clearly and explicitly delineate the members in the network, the nature of your connection with them, and the ideal channels to reach them. That way, someone who steps anew into your business will have a clue about how to proceed!

4. Plans and Dreams

If you intend that your business be run along the same (or similar) lines as you’ve been building and managing it, then it is your added responsibility to detail everything about it for a successor to learn and follow.

Do you have a written business plan that is handy for reference? More importantly, do you have your dreams and goals for your business in the future documented in a way that someone else can know what you wanted to do with it?

Have you spoken about this to others and explained your philosophy in running your online business, your ambitions and targets, your ultimate dream for it?

If not, how will they know?

Document Your Business Resources

The key to a smooth transition, then, lies in how well you have documented this material, and how you have done it. Your choice will depend upon uniquely personal factors, and there is no single “best way” to do it.

Also, this is not a once-off thing. As your business grows and evolves, things will change and your documentation will have to reflect these modifications. So keep this in mind while deciding about creating your plan, and do it in a way that is flexible and can be frequently updated.

The simplest way may be to write down things in a notebook and keep it handy for updates and revisions. You could also do this using a computer program or Word document, but be sure to print out backup hard copies and keep them somewhere safe. Or choose any other recording method you like – an audio message, a video presentation, a typed document.

While recording the information, be sure you are providing enough detail for the person who accesses it to understand what to do. Using technical jargon and cryptic messages won’t help if whoever is taking over doesn’t know what steps to take next based upon it.

Tell People About It

If you create a fantastic document explaining everything about running your business, but no one knows you’ve done it (and worse, cannot find it easily), then all is for naught. So make sure that your near and dear ones are aware of your business resource document and how to access it in case you are not in a condition to run your business.

Will You Do It?

Let me let you into a startling secret. I’ve been writing about this, and thinking about this, for almost three years. Even wrote a short manual (which I had planned to update with some spreadsheets and templates, before selling for $67). And I even carefully analyzed how long it would take to create and maintain a record like this – it’s only three hours every YEAR!

But until today, I hadn’t made a serious attempt to do it myself!

What changed? Well, disaster struck closer to home than ever before – and brought home with shocking harshness the undeniable reality that we are all mortal, and that our life hangs by a thread. Random events, unpredictable sequences and sheer chance can end it in a heartbeat.

It’s up to us to be prepared for when disaster strikes.

So I’m going to start work on creating a “Business Survivial Toolkit”. And to encourage you to do it too, I’m going to give away for FREE the $67 manual, which has a comprehensive list of elements in your business that you have to record and document. You can pick it up from this link:

Now you know what to do. The big question is: Will you do it?

Make a commitment by leaving a comment below. And let’s discuss how to disaster-proof our business in an uncertain world.

Dr. Mani

About Dr. Mani

Dr.Mani is actively engaged in spreading awareness about congenital heart disease (CHD) and fundraising to sponsor heart surgery for under-privileged children in India.

An ardent group of volunteers and donors have embraced this noble purpose that is bigger than any individual or group, and grown it into a global movement that has touched and saved the lives of 87 little children. You can help too. Learn how at

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  • Risk management is one of most important aspects of any business yet so many people don’t do it. It seems as humans, we are a lot more reactive than preventative. We feel that a problem is only a problem once its happened.

    • Yep, “reactive” defines ME (most of the time!) Hopefully writing this post will shake me out of that lethargy (and many other readers, too)

  • Mani
    Thank you!
    I’ve been thinking about this for a LONG time and this structure will definitely help me. Does this come with an execution fairy to make me actually do this? 🙂
    I joined your list too

    • The “execution fairy” is my secret upsell – you’ll learn about it when you download the report, Mark 😉

  • Interesting article Mani
    I always backup my websites,also print a store domain and hosting access informations, and I’ve also various list that I usually print 2 times a month

    • Albert, I envy your methodical approach. I keep intending to – but that’s as far as I typically get 🙂

  • Raj

    I think that managing an online venture (after it has grown considerably) is as difficult as learning to manage a website development business. If you have to manage a website development business without any knowledge of coding, just imagine how difficult it would be, even though you want to outsource majority of the job functions. Managing outsourced functions is very difficult if we are not good at that job in the first place.

    But what you are saying is right. We need a back-up plan and the best way to have that is to train ones spouse or sibling at the various activities required for online business, from time to time.

    • Absolutely agree, Raj. Things do seem to keep getting tougher and complicated as we grow – but that’s only a challenge to ‘up our game’ 🙂

  • Wow, it seems that everybody here is doing pretty well. Me? I’m just working hard to get to where this will be become an issue. 😉

    See you guys at the top.

    • Oh, David, you’ll be there sooner than you think. 🙂

  • Hi Dr. Mani,
    Thanks. Of course, I have downloaded your Business Survivial Toolkit, there was/are many things I had not thought of.

  • Part of the concept was I’ve heard first on Robert Kiyosaki when he challenged every business man to leave their business and if they can do it and their business survive, they can call themselves successful.

    In the example about, he is talking about online? in my own field, (SEO/SEM) I can’t do it because we all know that this field is continues, you can’t leave your website away from your eyes and mind, you need to have concrete records as well as implementing your work continuesly to stabilize the success of it. One moment without considering your online business, You dead.

    • Yup, Kiyosaki said this and they challenge all entrepreneurs.

      • Did you also read Rich Dad Poor Dad? good for us, I strongly recommend this book for all entrepreneurs.

  • This is actually something that most people don’t think about since as you said we believe that this can’t happen to us, of course it is wishful that something sudden and devastating will not happen to us but we should always be prepared for the worst…

    Regards Kostas

  • Sam

    Mani, interesting article. Especially documenting resource and finance is very important. I as a small business owner never cared for this until an external auditing company came and consulted me. They found me that i was losing 30% margin just because I do not know where to buy and when to buy raw materials… Lol… Even 10 year enterpreneur like me does things wrong and the only way to know this is reporting and Business Intelligence (BI)

  • Now that is a good question to be asked. Good write up Dr.Mani. Thanks.

  • Very insightful article Dr. Mani, opened my eyes a little. Keep them coming!

  • Thanks Dr. Mani, some great information here. Very useful to help your business move forward and survive.

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