How would your business manage if you were suddenly out of action for a period of time?
Have you thought what might happen to your business, your customers, your suppliers and your staff?
A friend of mine has been taken seriously ill and is unable to think about, let alone do, any of the financial tasks that are part of running her business and it made me think what would happen to my business if this had happened to me. And then I wondered how many other business owners would be prepared for this type of situation.
What things would suffer in your business if you were not available to do them?
Would somebody be able to run your payroll and pay your staff, or at least gather together the information needed to pass to the person who does run your payroll if you outsource it? Not only do staff need to be paid in order to pay their bills but HMRC are unlikely to be lenient if you are late submitting your payroll information. They accept few excuses and will charge you late payment interest from the day after your PAYE payment is due.
Will you miss your Staging Date (The Pension Regulator does not accept illness as a reasonable excuse)? If you already have a scheme who will provide the pension information to the pension company and ensure the contribution payment is made on time?
Does someone have access to your bank account in order to make payments to staff, HMRC, the pension company as well as to your suppliers? Or if you use cheques is there a second signatory on the account who could sign them in your absence? Is there someone who will know when your payment for Self Assessment tax, Corporation Tax or VAT is due so that it can be paid to avoid you receiving a penalty plus interest?
Is there someone who knows when your VAT return is due and is capable of putting together the necessary figures in order to submit the return on time? Do they have the login details to access the online VAT return in order to submit the information? HMRC will send a penalty notification if your return is late but will not charge a penalty until the 2nd return is late. This does not leave you much time if your returns are monthly.
Ability to talk to HMRC
By this I mean is there someone in your business or outside of your business that you have given HMRC authority to talk to? If not no-one will be able to advise HMRC why your VAT or your PAYE return is late as they will not talk to anyone except yourself unless you have given authority to your accountant or bookkeeper.
These are just a few things to consider but your business may also need someone to order and manage stock, keep the customers happy, bring in new customers, chase payments, manage cashflow, etc. If you are out of action and nobody can do these things then your income will dry up just when you need it most.
When you are busy running your business you generally don't think about a time when you might not be able to. We all think we will have plenty of time to train someone to do what we do when the time comes but what if it comes so suddenly there is no time?
My friend's situation has made me think a lot about what I should do. Fortunately her husband knows that I can help them out with the financial stuff that he is not able to do but how many business owners have someone they can ask to help them in that situation?
Food for thought.