All business strategies carry risks and costs, and cloning is no different. But entrepreneurs who have lived through a situation requiring a clone would no more try to run their businesses without one than they would apply for a loan without having a current balance sheet.
At Stern + Associates, the potentially disastrous absence of the CEO for nearly three years turned out to be more calm than storm. Stern returned to a company with a stable staff, content clients and annual billings virtually identical to the billings recorded when she left.
Did putting in a replacement save her business? "We would have gotten by," says Stern, "but we surely wouldn't have been as successful."
Because her arrangement with Rickner was so successful, Stern strongly advises entrepreneurs to plan for a time when they may not be there for their companies. "When you start a business," she says, "there's a tendency to be so excited you almost feel invincible. But you don't realize anything could happen, and you need to be ready for it."
Excite Inc., (650) 568-6000, http://www.excite.com
Hayman Systems, firstname.lastname@example.org, http://www.hayman.com
Saville & Holdsworth, email@example.com, http://www.shlusa.com
Stern + Associates, fax: (908) 276-7007, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Delahaye Group Inc., (603) 431-0111, email@example.com