D is for…Data and other disasters

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Picture the scene…

Hardworking interim slogs over strategically significant report for very important client (aka ‘Mr. Big from Cleethorpes’).  Suddenly, there’s a strange noise from the laptop. Pfft!  Whirr! Zut!  You know this is bad because the screen has gone blue and the reboot isn’t working.  You know this is bad because ‘Mr. Big’ wants his report by 9 am tomorrow, and you can feel your stomach churning as you begin to realise all your data has gone puff along with your PC…Sound familiar?

This very nearly happened to me.  I’ve used a bit of artistic licence, but if you know what happens when technology goes bad, you will know it’s both costly and debilitating to lose every single byte of data from your laptop or mobile.   In my case it took two weeks and serious money to recover the documents from my hard-drive, replace the laptop and purchase new software.  

The working life of an interim is one of self-sufficient intensity punctuated by moments of down-time.  Put some of that down-time to use and create support and disaster recovery systems that will help you run your business even if something terrible happens.  And if you don’t have down-time, hire a virtual assistant (VA) to do it for you.   Large organisations take this stuff very seriously, and so should you.

Some things to consider…

Safe as houses! How secure is your data?  Are your documents regularly backed-up onto a secure, external hard-drive or saved to the Cloud?  How quickly could you recreate your annual accounts, invoices and client documents if your laptop malfunctioned or was stolen?  What would it cost to replace your office equipment? Never mind iTunes, have you backed up the contact list on your smart-phone?  There are several low-cost applications on the market that allow you to do all of these things.  Peace of mind is priceless!

I.C.E., I.C.E., Baby. Nowadays most people have an I.C.E. (In Case of Emergency) number plugged into their mobile phones.   If you operate as an interim, you are more than likely working solo, so it’s advisable to have key contacts like your accountant, clients or next of kin listed in an accessible place.  If you got hit by a bus on your way to that assignment, how would your clients know where you were at on the project?  Do you keep detailed notes?  Is your filling system easy to understand?

Life happens.  Events such as debt, disease and divorce also qualify as disasters. At least two of them will seriously impact your earning power as an interim.  Are you managing your cash flow so you have enough saved to cover a longer stretch of unemployment?  Does your health insurance provide an income if you are unable to meet your client commitments due to illness?   Do you have a strong network of friends who will support you in times of emotional stress or personal difficulty?  Do you have a hobby that can provide an outlet when times get tough? 

Don’t forget your business support team either: IT specialists, financial advisors, accountants and virtual assistants can all help to smooth out those minor irritations that become major headaches if they aren’t handled properly.  Just because you work for yourself, doesn’t mean you have to do it yourself!

Lisa Bondesio is the founder of Chiridion Consulting. She provides common sense to corporate clients in times of transition and specialises in business change, strategy and stakeholder engagement. She backs up her data religiously!

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