What is Your Bus Factor?

Yellow school busIn a recent conversation with fellow creative coach and business woman, Quinn MacDonald, she mentioned to me about the bus factor.

I said, “The what?”

“You know, in case you get hit by a bus…”

I realized the implications of this in my life and cringed. And giggled nervously.

Now, this isn’t a reality I intend to create. Just the same I always look both ways before crossing the street. You do too, right?

What she was really bringing up was what happens to your business and the people who depend on you when you’re not able to be there, either temporarily or permanently.

Not a happy Monday topic, I know, so I’ll get right to the point.

Guys, we’re all going to die some day. And one thing is true for those of us walking around freely (as opposed to those very few, but too many, in my opinion, waiting for their day of scheduled execution by the hands of the state, um, California) — this one thing that is true — no one can predict the moment of their death.

So let’s face the facts. We’re not immortal. (I know, damn, right? I so thought this to be true when I was younger. Didn’t you?!)

So what can you do to protect your business, your family, your friends, your clients… for when you are no longer here?

When my grandfather died, he left behind an apartment full of knick-nacks, doodads, assorted art pieces he’d made, a piano, and lots and lots of … stuff. Including two old and usable cars. My mom, his daughter, dutifully and diligently cleaned out his apartment, and was overwhelmed by all the choices. Looking back, it would have been so nice if he had let us know, ahead of time, who got what. And my grandfather knew he had a weak heart; he could have planned… (Thank for the car, grandpa. The Tercel lasted for a little while more… )

My point is: Do you want to leave a mess behind if you were to be suddenly hit by a bus, or do you want to leave behind something else, some kind of directive for your family, and other loved ones?

Other questions to ask:

  • What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind?
  • What would you like done to your unpublished manuscripts, half-started stories, and boxes and boxes of journals?
  • How do you want to matter to your world?
  • What story does your stuff say about you?

Since we’re sharing here, I’ll take a stab at my answers. And I’d be curious to hear yours, if you’re in the sharing mood.

I want to leave behind a legacy of helping other writers, and creatives, yes, authors, succeed in business… I have a lot to say on that subject, in fact. Some of it started here, at Artist Entrepreneurs Unite!

In regards to all my unpublished papers, novels, and stories, yes, and my boxes and boxes and boxes of journals (that’s what accumulates when you have been writing since you’re 13), I don’t mind them gone through. In fact, I’d like an anthropology team to store all my documents and re-examine in 50 years to learn about the life and times in which I lived, and about who I was…

How I want to matter to my world is … that I mattered. That people were helped by me, touched by me, influenced, and amused. And that by my passage through their life, I helped make their world better…

If my stuff could speak, the story it would tell! Um, that I like books… That dragons are important to me… and Beth likes to read magazines: Wired, The Writer, Writer’s Digest, New Scientist, Inc. Magazine, Entrepreneur Magazine, Vogue, RWR, yeah, that’s it, for now… That she likes to color with gel pens and colored pencils, and that saving things in binders and filing cabinets is important. Ordered chaos might describe her stuff; so might colorful, collage, and love. There are pictures of her and her husband all over the apartment. So says my stuff.

This post was my exploration of the Bus Factor. A start anyway. And now for something completely different, enjoy Quinn’s take on The.Bus. Factor at her blog, Quinn Creative. We agreed to both post on this topic today! Fun!

Let us know what you think…

Beth Barany

Beth Barany is the editor and publisher of the Writer's Fun Zone. Certified as a Creativity Coach and NLP Practitioner, and an award-winning novelist of a YA fantasy novel, Beth Barany is passionate about helping genre novelists get their message out into the world, gain confidence in their self-expression, and discover how they can get noticed and sell books to their readers. More about her services and products for genre novelists at http://www.bethbarany.com. Write on!

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