Flu season is upon us and amid the sniffles and tissues, nothing strikes worry into the heart of a small business owner like time away from the desk.

It’s estimated adults will catch two to four colds a year and while that doesn’t always equate to days of bed-ridden boredom, it’s the interruption to ‘business as usual’ that’s the concern.

What happens when you can’t work? How can you insure your business continues when you can’t?

Small businesses often grow organically through trial and error, and we tend to not think about incorporating systems and processes into our every day working lives.

But those systems and process can really step up when we can’t work – whether because of a cold or something more serious.

This is what happened to me. There I was, growing my business, keeping everything important in documents and reports…and on post it notes, on a password protected computer and (you guessed it) in my head.

And this was fine until the inevitable happened: I got ill and I needed to outsource work.

Getting ill was the first indication that my businesses needed systems. While I knew exactly how my business worked, if I wanted to outsource any amount of administration or low value activity to a third party, I couldn’t – it was all locked away or undocumented.

Outsourcing work was, in short, impossible.

What would happen to your business if you got ill and needed to some help to keep you going?

Here are my tried and tested tips for seamless small business continuity:

Get going while the going’s good

First off, this is not the sort of work to leave until crisis point. This is the stuff of preparation and prevention and the rewards are in the long-term gains.

It’s a good idea to take out appropriate business insurance for your business and profession. If you’re worried about how an illness or injury could affect your business, then you may want to consider Personal Accident and Sickness cover which can pay a regular benefit if you cannot work because you have had an accident or have gotten sick. This can be especially valuable for those who are self-employed.

Not only does business insurance enhance your reputation it can also protect your business should the worst happen.

Document everything

Did you know you can hire people who do nothing but document your business processes? They’re very useful people to know! A documented process allows others to take over but it’s also great for compliance and quality management systems such as ISO 9000.

Processes are also great for efficiency and with more than 50,000 thoughts rumbling through our heads every day, distractions are inevitable. Knowing exactly what needs to happen to set up a new client account, send a marketing campaign or re-order stock means it can happen quickly AND someone else can do it too.

Find people who CAN

Virtual assistants are growing in popularity for all the right reasons – for small business owners they represent an increased workforce with minimal risk – no long term contracts and no debilitating overheads. It’s around three times more expensive to hire someone in house than to use a freelancer.

So find yourself a virtual team of people who can, get them up to speed with how things are done and have them on call for when you need them most.

Don’t forget your tech

We’re not the only ones who get sick! What would happen with your computer caught a bug? Back up solutions are your computer’s insurance policy. There are many to choose from and can start for as little as £40 a year.

So now, if I go down, my business won’t go with me. How do you insure your business against illness?

[quotebutton]