My husband and I were in New York City when Hurricane Sandy hit. Like thousands of others, we were without electricity – no lights, no TV, no Internet, no hot water, no heat and no elevator – for days. Fortunately, we were just visiting. We had no damage, no injuries, and it wasn’t critical that we get back to Chicago on schedule. We were able to wait it out until we could get a flight back home. Clients knew I’d be out of town for a couple of weeks and I hadn’t booked any meetings, so my business wasn’t affected. While it was inconvenient, we didn’t really suffer.
But so many people did. Our hearts, prayers, and financial donations are going out to them. They lost everything and are totally consumed by basic survival needs. Business is the least of their worries. But there are others I couldn’t help also thinking about. Those who weren’t devastated, but whose small businesses were still affected by the storm – at least temporarily. Especially when you’re a solopreneur, if you can’t work, everything comes to a halt.
What if you were subjected to some sort of disruption that, while not of the same magnitude as Hurricane Sandy, required major adjustments on your part to keep your business up and running? Perhaps something regional or local -- something clients or customers might not even be aware of. You never know when something will happen that you’re totally unprepared for. How would you continue the most critical aspects of your business?

Here are a few steps you can take ahead of time to keep working through a major disruption:
1. Find help before you need it: Don’t wait until an emergency to line up an assistant. If you’re already finding that you can’t keep up with all the administrative and management tasks that need doing in your business, get yourself a reliable Virtual Assistant. These independent professionals work remotely to relieve you of all those tasks that drain you of the time and energy you need for your core business. They free you to do the things you like to do, are good at, and the reason you started your business in the first place! Because they work from their own place of business, if there’s a problem where you are, they can keep things afloat for you.
2. Use the cloud: Create an account on Dropbox or GDrive (formerly Google Docs) and configure it to sync to all your devices. Do it before you need it. At the first inkling of a problem you can transfer your most important documents there. You’ll be able to work from any device that can reach the Web and will allow others (like your Virtual Assistant) to access your documents if necessary.
3. Print important documents: Don’t take having power for granted. If there's something critical you’ll need, print it out.
4. Keep devices charged: Your mobile phone, laptop and/or tablet are your most important business tools. Keep them charged and consider keeping extra batteries on hand. If you’re fortunate enough to have warning of an impending disruption, keep them and your AC adapters with you and top them up whenever and wherever you can. Add your mobile phone number to your email signature block.
5. Connect with friends or colleagues: If you can find out what others are planning to do, perhaps you can join them. Somebody may still have power and you can all gather there. Besides, when you’re with other people the inconveniences seem less burdensome, and often there’s some clever person in the group who can figure a way around outages and shortages.
6. Look around: Take note of public buildings such as libraries or coffee shops where you might be able to work in the event you lose power. If you’re able to relocate, take a couple of extension cords along. People will let you share their outlets and you can share your cords.
7. Get back to basics: Identify work that won't require calls or e-mail, in case you lose access to electricity, Internet and phone service for an extended period. Most of us don’t write anything in longhand any more, but grab a pad of paper and a pen. Even if your devices have long-lasting batteries, once they run out a document draft that’s trapped inside your computer won’t do you any good.
Some events, there’s no way to anticipate. But if you have a bit of warning, with a little advance planning you can work through even a major disruption.

Author's Bio: 

If you’re a smart solopreneur – someone who’s an expert in your field but still figuring out how to run a business – you should know Elaine Quinn, The Solopreneur Specialist. Elaine is a small business consultant who is tuned in to the needs of people like you. A solo professional herself for more than 10 years, she also draws on 25 years prior management experience in Fortune 100 companies to help you find solutions to whatever’s bothering you about your business. Elaine’s consulting and coaching is customized to zero in on exactly what you want (and need) help with. Visit her website at and get your free copy of her ebook!