A contingency plan is not just for the unexpected; it’s a responsible practice for artists to ensure their creative vision is not derailed by unforeseen circumstances.— Barney Davey
As a solo entrepreneur and artist, it’s easy to get caught up in the creative process and forget to plan for the “what ifs” in life. However, having a contingency plan is essential for all artists who take their business seriously. In this post, we’ll discuss why having a contingency plan is so important and provide practical advice on creating one.
Besides helping artists with art marketing, I encourage living well with them according to their needs. That includes providing guidance that crosses business and personal lines, like using a contingency plan to prepare for unexpected events. A contingency plan can help avoid disasters or make them as tolerable as possible. But without one put into action, the effects of an emergency multiply quickly and exponentially. And so, I advise you to help protect your family and business with a contingency plan.
Why a Contingency Plan Is Essential for Solo Entrepreneur Artists
Your art business is your livelihood, and it’s not immune to unexpected events. You might be unable to run your business because of a sudden illness, a family emergency, or a natural disaster. Without a contingency plan, your business would halt, and no one would take care of your customers, fulfill orders, or pay your bills.
A contingency plan ensures that your business can keep operating if you cannot work. It also protects your reputation with buyers and collectors who depend on you to deliver the art. Furthermore, a backup plan gives you a safety net that helps you have peace of mind that you can be okay even when things are uncertain.
Start with This Five-Point List
- Identify potential risks and hazards: Solo business owners must identify the potential risks and dangers that may impact their business. This includes natural disasters such as floods, fires, and earthquakes, as well as manufactured disasters such as cyber-attacks, theft, and vandalism.
- Develop a communication plan: In an emergency, it’s critical to have a communication plan in place to reach out to employees, customers, and other stakeholders. This plan should include contact information for key individuals, alternative modes of communication, and a method for communicating with employees who may not be on-site.
- Prepare an evacuation plan. If your business is in a location that may require evacuation during an emergency, it’s crucial to have a clear and well-thought-out evacuation plan. Ensure your family and anyone involved in your business understand your strategy and know where to go in an emergency.
- Protect important documents and data: In an emergency, it’s essential to have backups of important documents and data, such as financial records and customer information. Store these backups in a secure location, such as a cloud-based storage system.
- Plan for resuming operations: In the aftermath of an emergency, solo business owners must have a plan. This plan should include steps for assessing damage, rebuilding, and communicating with customers and other stakeholders.
Practical Advice for Creating a Contingency Plan
It’s crucial to involve trusted people in your contingency plan. For example, it could be with a friend, family member, or business associate who can take over running your business in your absence. Please ensure they are reliable, trustworthy, and understand your art business. Before you begin recruiting, you must work through your contingency plan so you know what you will ask for.
Visual Artists Emergency Plan
- Document Critical Information: Create a document containing all critical information related to your business. This data includes passwords, account numbers, login details, and other essential information. Make sure your designated person knows where to access this document.
- Make a List of Contacts: Include the names, emails, and phone numbers of all the people you do business with, such as customers, suppliers, and other important people. Give access to this list to your designated person.
- Set Up an Emergency Fund: Set up an emergency fund that can cover your expenses if you cannot work. The fund could be six months’ worth of living expenses or whatever amount you’re comfortable with.
- Make Sure Your Tools and Devices Are Available: Train the person you choose so they know how to use the tools, software, devices, and equipment your business needs. This list includes your computer, drawing tablet, software licenses, and other devices you use for your work.
- Create a Business Continuity Plan: Create a plan that outlines what will happen in an emergency. This plan includes who will take over, how they will operate the business, and how they will communicate with customers and stakeholders.
How to Make Your Contingency Plans Actionable
Plans without action are useless. Artists can’t handle details in an emergency. You might be the reason for the crisis, or the event might be overwhelming, so you must recruit your help now.
Don’t Put off Recruiting Help
Here are tips for solo entrepreneurs on who to work with on contingency plans. It includes who to share the results with and how to pick someone to step in if the entrepreneur is unavailable to operate the business:
- Identify a trusted advisor, such as a lawyer, accountant, or another qualified person, who can help you develop and implement your contingency plan.
- Consider seeking advice from someone with experience in small business operations.
- Involve family or friends in your contingency planning process. And seek their input on potential risks and develop strategies considering their needs.
- Share the results of your contingency plan with family or friends so they know the strategy and their roles in executing it.
You Need Willing and Capable Help
The best people to put on this list are those who could be at risk if an emergency happened at your business. For example, your spouse or partner, a family member, a close friend, an employee, an investor, or a vendor could be involved if the relationship allows.
- Identify a dependable backup person who can step in and operate the business in your absence. This person should be someone you trust, who has a good understanding of your business, and who is willing and able to take on the responsibility.
- Prepare the backup person with information about your business operations, contacts, and other vital details. Train them on critical tasks and processes to prepare them to step in if needed.
- Consider developing a succession plan should you become permanently unable to operate the business, including identifying someone to take over ownership or selling the company to a new owner.
Visual Artists Contingency Plan Checklist
Use this guide to prepare your business for an emergency:
- Identify potential risks:
- Start by identifying the potential risks that could impact your art business.
- These could include equipment loss, artwork damage, or inability to deliver products on time.
- Assess the impact of each risk:
- Once you have identified potential risks, assess the potential impact of each one.
- For example, consider how each risk could affect your ability to produce and sell your art.
- Develop a response plan:
- Develop a plan for responding to each potential risk based on your assessment. This plan should outline the steps you will take to minimize the impact of the risk on your business.
- For example, if your artwork is damaged, consider creating backups or storing them in a safer location.
- Communicate the plan:
- Ensure that anyone involved in your business knows the contingency plan and understands their roles and responsibilities in implementing it.
- Have your contingency plan documentation available and backed up so those who need it have immediate access to it–and let them know where you keep it.
- Test the plan:
- Regularly test your contingency plan to ensure it is practical and up-to-date.
- This testing could include running simulations or practice drills to identify any gaps or weaknesses in the project.
- Update the plan:
- Finally, after testing, it’s necessary to regularly update your contingency plan based on business or external environmental changes.
- Updating ensures you are always prepared to respond to potential risks and minimize their impact on your business.
As a one-person business, the success and survival of your art business depend a lot on having a Plan B. As such, it is essential to document important information. To ensure your business runs smoothly while you’re gone, you must list people you can trust, set up an emergency fund, and train people to use your business tools.
My best advice is to plan your backup plan before anything unexpected happens. By planning what to do if something goes wrong, you can have confidence that your business will run smoothly if something terrible happens. So please don’t wait for unforeseen events; start planning now, and be ready to navigate anything coming your way.
- Ready.gov Emergency Response Plan
- FEMA: Developing and Maintaining Emergency Operations Plans – Comprehensive Preparedness Guide 101
- SCORE is a nonprofit organization that provides mentorship and resources to small businesses. Their website includes information and templates on emergency planning and business continuity.
- The American Red Cross offers resources on emergency preparedness, including tips and checklists for creating an emergency plan.
- State and local emergency management agencies provide resources and information on emergency preparedness and contingency planning specific to their region.
- Insurance agencies can also be a valuable resource for contingency planning. For example, many insurance companies offer business interruption insurance, which can help cover lost income and expenses in the event of an unexpected interruption to your business operations. Some insurance agencies may also offer risk assessment and mitigation services, helping you identify potential risks and develop a plan to address them. In addition, working with an insurance agency that understands your business’s unique risks and needs is essential and can help you create a comprehensive contingency plan.