Starting in 2009, I took it upon myself to develop a Business State of the Union.Our company had been growing since its inception in 1997, and with the way technology was changing all the time I felt I needed to have everything in one place. I needed to have information available to me or to my husband if something were to happen to either one of us. Articles have been written that touch on pieces of what was going through my mind. In fact, there was an article from the NY Daily News about having a social media will.
But it is not just about social media. Think about your entire business. The infrastructure, the access, the passwords, the chain of command. What happens to all of that if something unexpectedly happens to you? Who has access? Where are the passwords?
Setting up your own State of the Union (SOTU) is an essential part of running your business. I am on my 8th year of doing so, and remind everyone annually at this time. So let’s go through the basics of what you need to do in order to set up your own personal SOTU.
Step One: Collect all the data.
- Business Systems – what technology do you have in place that is a vital part to running your business? Is it a specific software or database? Who has access? Where are the passwords? Does someone else understand how it works? A common one that comes to mind is Quickbooks.
- Social Media – As it stands, Facebook will not give you access to your loved one’s account when they pass. They will “memorialize the account” so only confirmed friends can see and still post. Now for most people this may not be that big of a deal, but what if you have a lot of Facebook Ads tied to this account? Pictures? You cannot access this without the name and login. There are types of legislation the will assist in certain cases, but why not avoid it altogether and have your login and password accessible to the person that will need it? This of course also applies to Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, you name it. Gather your logins and passwords to all the social media sites you frequent and list them on your SOTU.
- Email – Where is it hosted? What are the passwords? Do you have access to all of the machines, such as home or work laptops, phones, iPads, etc. where you can log on to the email?
- Websites – Again, where is it hosted? What are the logins and passwords? How many domain names do you own, and when do they expire? Where did you register them? This is especially true if your livelihood is tied to your brand and website.
- Internet/Back Ups – Gather your logins and passwords to deal with our internet account. Do you know your wireless network password? Do you have a guest account with a password? Do you have a Time Capsule or other back up hard drive that is password protected? You need to know what these are!
- Cell Phone Accounts – Again, having access to logins, passwords, and plan information is vital. It is extremely rare that anyone has a land line any more, so you need to be able to get on the carrier’s website and adjust whatever is necessary.
- iCloud/iTunes – Apple is typically very helpful in retrieving someone’s music if they have passed, but if you have access to these accounts and can relieve a lot of extra work and aggravation.
I could go on and on with the list of different programs, products, services like PayPal, Amazon and various people like lawyers and insurance agents, but you get the idea.
Step 2: Where To Store It
Now that you have all of this technical data in one place, what do you do with it? First, I recommend using an encrypted system to store all of your vital passwords. We use and recommend Passpack. Passpack.com is a password management system that will allow you to manage and organize your passwords, create accounts for family members or team members, and it is all encrypted and secure.
Next, it is time to create the official SOTU: a Word document or Excel spreadsheet that lists the physical location as to where to find your important documents, such as wills, life insurance policies, bank accounts and so on, and then also include your Passpack account information. This document can be as simple or as thorough as you want it to be. Then you find a place to put it.
Last year I even placed everything “in order of importance” to the best of my ability, just to make it easier on my executor.
My husband and I have placed our SOTU onto Dropbox, which is not only accessible to us both, but makes it easy to update the information. I also have a printed copy that I keep with the wills in a safety deposit box – just because I am anal like that.
Step 3: Update on an annual basis.
For us, that just happens to be every August. Set a date on your calendar – one that you will stick to. It only takes us less than an hour to go over any changes to passwords, business systems, bank accounts, etc. Just a small amount of time can really save you a lot of grief and struggle in the long run.
The SOTU is very personal since everyone utilizes technology and social media in different ways. Honestly – you don’t need to be a business owner to have one. Everyone should. Get your info together and then pick a person in charge.
So how many of you have a SOTU? Am I the only one? Did I get your wheels spinning? What are your thoughts?
There are multiple blogs I read EVERY week. It is no secret that every entrepreneur must stay on top of their game and keep researching and reading to learn more about what they do and how they can help their clients and customers. Thank goodness for the Internet! I can’t imagine running a business without the ability to get a hold of so much information that can help me when I am struggling with a problem, wanting to learn something new or trying to spread my message to the world. I imagine it is the same for you. Of course, since the Internet is so HUGE – where do you begin?
There are a million different blogs out there all giving wonderful information. Below is my list of some of the blogs that I read weekly that help me put the pieces together of running my company – and I hope you enjoy them as well.
- Mari Smith
For those of you that may not know, Mari is THE Facebook Marketing Expert. She has written several books, is incredibly active on all forms of social media, and I personally have heard her speak on numerous occasions both in person and online. She is a giver. She is constantly showing you tips and tricks on how to make the most of your Facebook marketing platform. If you visit her blog, you will find that she is almost always promoting a webinar or training course that covers various topics revolving around Facebook. Some are free and some you pay for. She also has a really cool “Inner Circle” private Facebook group that you can be a part of if you sign up for one of her programs that puts you in touch with people from all over the world that are trying to learn just like you. There is power in putting your minds together with other entrepreneurs, and I, myself, have asked several questions in that group and have been helped out by total strangers from somewhere in the world. It is a wonderful community. She also has an email that goes out every single Friday that spotlights her top three picks of articles that she thought shared valuable content – and they are NOT articles she wrote. She is constantly learning herself and is happy to share the good stuff when she finds it. If you are not on her list, you should be. Go to her website and sign up!
- ProBlogger/Darren Rowse
I have been receiving Darren’s emails for a long time now. Creating your own blog and content is so important, and it can become very daunting when you have no idea what you are doing. There is so much more to it than just sitting down and writing. Darren not only holds classes to help you learn to be a better blogger, but he continues to share what else he finds on the Internet the way Mari does. He has frequent posts he calls his “Reading Roundup: What’s New in Blogging Lately” that are extremely helpful. His blog is constantly focused on giving you different tools to make your blog better such as commenting system tools, content creation, how to get paid for your blog and a great topic generator tool (which may or may not have been used to come up with this topic. Not going to lie.) He has really taught me a lot about blogging and is another one I suggest you follow. Click here to join his newsletter.
As a blogger, you HAVE to know how to make the most out of each and every post by optimizing your blog. Yoast is a company that created a plugin to be installed on WordPress websites that helps you optimize your website pages, as well as your blog posts. The beauty of this company is that they are also givers. They have written numerous eBooks on how to set up a great website, how to optimize it, content SEO assistance, analytics and more. They have an email newsletter that is always full of helpful tips, as well as an “Ask Yoast” section on their website where you can even talk to their people in more detail about your specific issue. So, yes, they are in the market to sell you their plugin, but they are doing it right by providing you with a TON of extras to show you that they are the best when it comes to website optimization. Check them out here. If you don’t have a WordPress site – I know a company that can help with that too!
- Beth Hayden
I first got introduced to Beth through a mutual friend when she wrote Pinfluence: The Complete Guide To Marketing Your Business With Pinterest. I love this book. I highly recommend it to anyone out there whose target market is on Pinterest and you need to learn how to reach them. What I quickly came to discover is that Beth is also a wealth of information when it comes to blogging, content generation, and list building. She even has a page on her website dedicated to the resources and tools she uses herself in order to run her online business. Once again – a giver! Are you seeing a pattern here? I encourage you to join her list building challenge. This is a great challenge designed to hold you accountable with increasing your subscribers, and therefore your reach, which will lead to more business.
There are definitely more, but these four will get you well on your way of gaining knowledge from industry experts that have certainly helped me along the way.
Speaking of giving…how about you give some of your favorite blogs or or podcasts that help you grow your business! Post your favorites in the comments!