The end of the year is a time for us all to look ourselves over critically in the mirror and review our performance:
“In December, I want to look back at the year and answer two questions:
1. how did we do? and
2. what do we want to do better next year?”
~ The Fizzle
For those of us running our own business, it's tempting to skip the annual performance review of ourselves or to simply do a superficial review of our books so we can meet with the accountants in February.
Yes, you do want to review your finances, the standard accounting reports, and do some tax planning. You also want to do some strategic planning and set up metrics so you can evaluate what you did well and what you want to do differently, and how you want to grow your business next year. And you'll want to review your insurance, retirement plans, and possibly defer income or buy equipment.
But there's one thing that doesn't really get mentioned and it's something that's becoming more important, especially for solo practitioners, consultants, and small businesses: Managing Your Digital Footprint.
If you suddenly died, who would know to tell your clients you weren't going to finish that project? Would anyone even know how to find your current client or active projects list? If you have servers and online services that are connected to a corporate credit card or bank account, who knows to where to find them or has authorization to access them? Will they know how to gather the corporate IP (that needs to go back to your clients) and shut the services down?
A couple of years ago, I saw a presentation by Andrew Kalat called "Online No One Knows You're Dead" that still haunts me.
A friend of his -- a hacker by trade with a complex technology footprint -- died unexpectedly. He went in with his IT skills to try and untangle the situation for the friends' non-technical wife. And he wasn't entirely successful. After all, if Apple won't unlock an iPhone for the Feds, they certainly won't for just little old you.
So take a moment (well, ok, an hour) to watch the video of the presentation Andrew—an experienced, well-known IT security industry expert—gave about this grueling experience. You'll never be the same...and you'll add a technology review to your Year-End review activities. ASAP.