How to prepare for the worst

In this week’s Focus Group, the plan was to discuss what to do when things go wrong. For example, what if something goes wrong on a site, but your backup fails? What if the dev you contracted for a deadline ghosts on you? What if you get Covid and are out of commission for weeks (or months!)? We started talking about that, but then we hung a left at some point. Read on to see where we ended up!

My personal answer to the conundrum of “What to do when something goes wrong?” was twofold: Preparation and Redundancy. Although Preparation obviously comes before Redundancy in real life, we started off discussing the redundancy bit with some commonplace scenarios.


What should I do when a developer ghosts?

It’s an unfortunate reality that website developers are known for “ghosting” or vanishing mid-way through a project. It’s important to work toward building relationships and gaining trust, but that is, of course, not an immediate solution. If you are in a situation where you are trying out a new contractor, using a developer with whom you have not yet built up a trusted relationship, or anyone who has been flaky or unreliable in the past, make sure you build redundancy into your team by having a backup developer you can reach out to last minute, or ensure YOU have the skills (and time!) to handle anything you are delegating.

If you don’t have the luxury of time due to a tight deadline or your current workload, you may want to consider an option like Focus On Demand. Having an instant team of developers (multiple developers, that is!) means you can be sure your tasks will be completed. That’s not to say that emergencies don’t come up for Focus devs, preventing them from completing a task, but because we have multiple developers with overlapping skillsets, another team member will slide right in to complete the task – and you likely won’t even notice!

What if my backup fails?

In my experience, backups never fail….until you NEED them! Backups are one of the most commonly discussed scenarios where redundancy is absolutely crucial. If you are relying solely on your hosting company’s backups, you are living dangerously – and not in the cool way! Adding your own backups is a step you should take immediately. And don’t just stop there! Be sure you are backing up with more than one method and/or saving copies of your backups in different locations. It feels like overkill…until the fateful day when you need it.

What if I lose my biggest / only client?

It can be so exciting when we land a whale of a client. So much work! So much money! No sales! But remember that story about all the eggs in that one basket. Ok, confession….I have no idea why it’s bad to have multiple eggs in the same basket. Did people carry a separate basket for each egg?? Regardless, if the financial security of your business is tied up in just one client, that is a risky situation. There are so many things outside of your control that could impact that business, resulting in loss of their revenue. Yes, redundancy in our customer base is critical. Make sure that you are not solely reliant on just one or two clients.

What if my significant other cheats on me?

Well…some things should NOT have redundancy. Sorry, I’m no help for this one.


The more we discussed redundancy in various areas of our businesses, the more it became obvious that being prepared  for issues is of paramount importance. Kylie Wallace, self proclaimed “Master of Disaster,” suggested spending some time doing “Scenario Planning,” or brainstorming the specific things that would occur if you were incapacitated. This could be a tragedy like the proverbial bus that is coming for all of us, or something like having your internet go out for a few days, which is non-life-threatening, but potentially very damaging to your business.

While you are brainstorming dark and depressing things, why not take a few minutes to think about which of these scenarios you could actually prevent, rather than just react to. Kylie calls this “Disaster Reduction.” Simplistic examples of this are ensuring you have redundant backups (see above), and not stepping out in the street in front of busses.

Then things took a bit of a dark turn 😳

Let’s face it, if you really did get hit by a bus, the paramedics wouldn’t be calling your clients to let them know. In the case of a life and death situation, your personal contacts are the first to be contacted. Obviously it’s important to be prepared for the worst for your family and also your business. Here are the tips from the gang:

  • Have an up-to-date Will, Power of Attorney, and Advance Medical Directive. (Gen Herres)
  • Get a Living Trust. (Michael Lofton)
  • Set your Emergency Contact Info in your phone. (Andrew Palmer)
  • Sign up for Business Insurance – and read the fine print! Be sure you are covered if your clients are in other countries. (Kylie Wallace)
  • Create an image for your lock screen that has contact info for an emergency contact. (Gen Herres)
  • Set up an emergency contact for your business (Everyone find a buddy!) and add them to the emergency access options of your password app. I use LastPass and it has a great function for this. (Stephanie Hudson)
  • Include emergency contact information in your email signature. (Gen Herres)
  • Disaster Reduction: Strategize ways to reduce risks in our lives and business. (Kylie Wallace)
  • If you have a team, be sure they know what to do if you are incapacitated. (Andrew Palmer)
  • Make a backup of your password vault just in case LastPass (or your password app of choice) goes down. (Michael Lofton)
  • Whatever you do, don’t eat the same lasagna together with your team. (Michael Lofton)

Two steps to take immediately

We love “Quick Wins” in this group, so I posed the question, “What are 3 things we could do immediately to set up some redundancy in our businesses?” The discussion around this was great! We ended up with not 3 but 2 steps that we all committed to take THIS WEEK. Interestingly, one involved implementing some redundancy and the other involved preparation:

  1. Find a “Redundancy Buddy.”  Provide access to credentials or contact information and discuss with them what steps they should take, such as:
    • Monitor your email to respond to client inquiries
    • Check recently sent messages and contacting those clients to inform them of the situation
    • Communicate with your team, if applicable
    • Cancel any subscriptions that may no longer be needed
  2. Add emergency contact information to your mobile phone, including health conditions, medications, and contact info for a family member or close friend.

Watch the replay

There’s so much to discuss on this topic, but this was a great start. If you’d like to watch the replay, you can stream it here in the Focus On Your Biz Facebook Group. (Note: You will have to be a member of the group to have access to the video, but it’s free and a totally awesome place!)

About the Author

Stephanie is a geek, entrepreneur, business coach, podcast host, internationally known speaker, notebook hoarder, and dad joke aficionado. She loves helping WordPress businesses thrive and grow.


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