What’s Your Hit-by-a-Bus Plan? (KS Lesson #267)

8 July 2019 | 13 Comments

I think this is going to be a bit of a weird (and slightly morbid) post, but we’ll see how it goes.

I’m writing this because there are tons of companies (crowdfunding and otherwise) who are run by one person. That person is responsible for their backers, customers, clients, and independent contractors. They alone have access to the files, financial accounts, emails, and creative assets that are interconnected with all those other people.

So what happens if that person gets hit by a bus tomorrow?

I know, it’s morbid. But because of a lone creator’s level of responsibility to so many people, I think it’s important to think about this just in case. The methods I mention below may not work for you at all, and that’s fine–it’s still worth taking a few minutes to really consider what would happen if you are suddenly unable to do anything for your company.

Here’s a few considerations and how I’ve approached them:

  • Access to email and files: I’ve provided my business partner with a few key passwords to get into my computer and email accounts.
  • Access to financials and ecommerce: While my computer saves some of my passwords, I don’t autosave passwords to the most important accounts. Rather, I have a separate, password-protected file that contains those passwords, and my business partner knows where that file is and how to access it. The key part of this is that I actually keep that file up to date.
  • Investors and ownership: Written into our operating agreement is a clearly defined explanation of what happens if I’m no longer alive to enjoy the benefits of my shares in Stonemaier.

If you don’t have a business partner, you might instead select someone (a spouse or good friend) to be the executor of your hit-by-a-bus plan. I have something like that built into my will and trust.

I truly hope that your hit-by-a-bus plan (and mine) never requires action. But I’d rather be prepared, especially given what I feel is a huge responsibility to my customers, clients, and contractors, even postmortem.

What’s your hit-by-a-bus plan? What aspects am I overlooking?

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13 Comments on “What’s Your Hit-by-a-Bus Plan? (KS Lesson #267)

  1. I have a similar “unexpected demise” plan. One piece it appears you might be missing is a “who to contact and how” plan. I would imagine it would be a constantly changing file because it would include info like how to identify and contact current backers (or anyone who is awaiting an order), who needs to be contacted 1st/2nd/3rd/…, and which conventions/shows where you have commitments to contact.

  2. Hey Jamey,
    One thing you should consider is instead of having a file containing your passwords, use a password manager like Keepass, LastPass, OnePass, or similar. They do a better job of keeping those passwords safe, and if your computer dies, you still have access to those passwords.

  3. Are you aware if there is some sort of insurance a creator could pay that will allow to stop the project and refund the backers in case of such mishap?

  4. And on a similar topic that I mentioned in my last comment: I would love you to make a post about insurance for project creator.

    I participated to campaign where the Chinese warehouse went on fire and most of the games were lost, other where a container was lost in the sea. Not all those campaigns had an happy ending, and not all creators subscribed to an insurance to cover this kind of events.

    What is your approach on this?

  5. I’d also consider a way to make work-in-progress accessible and understandable to an external party.
    I work in disaster recovery, and one thing we do a lot of is testing the plan. It’s the simplest and most direct way to find gaps (and fix them). A simple tabletop walk through is good gentle first step. Ultimately, a “live system” test where the subject matter expert is unavailable really can show weaknesses in any planned response.
    It also shows that the plan really works. Really really works.
    Live system testing is the gold standard.

    1. This ^

      So often people have a great backup plan, but never actually test it, and then when it’s really needed, suddenly all the things you thought were accessible, aren’t.

      It will mean re-setting a lot of passwords as someone will have seen them, but it’s probably worth doing at least once to ensure it’s all working as planned.

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