As a small business owner, you probably hold the responsibility for making sure your business continues, no matter what the circumstances. By managing business continuity risk and planning accordingly, you can better ensure the long term health of your business.
Have plans. A business plan will help you figure out where you’re going. A marketing plan will help you determine where to focus and how to build your business. And a business continuity plan will help you address potential risks to your business, such as disasters and turnover of key staff.
Identify risks to your business. Think about the risk exposure you have. Look at your assets and your equipment. Think about data, privacy and legal issues, as well as income fluctuation and emergency funds. Consider who has access to your customer information, plans and risk.
Think outside the box. When it comes to business continuity and emergency preparedness planning, we usually consider fire, flood, earthquake and natural disasters or perhaps “key man” or “key person” risk. But, if your business is still very small, that key person risk may mean more than a concern about staff turnover. If you’re at the helm, you may have to consider what could happen if something happened to your spouse, your children, your aging parents or your own health. Thinking about how you can work on the business – and not just in it – does more than free you from the drudgery of running a business. It means that you can walk away when you need to do so and the business will keep running. So consider how to build your business so that you don’t have to show up for it to keep running.
Get insurance and other coverage. Fire, property, car, health – make sure you’re covered. You may also want to look at financing and even a line of credit.
Develop an emergency communications plan. If something goes wrong, how will you communicate with key clients, staff, vendors and others?
Identify potential sources of support. Can you outsource some of your operations? To whom?
Determine what systems and organizational units are interdependent and which rely out outside services.
Prepare a business recovery plan. If you or someone else had to start up again after a disaster, what would need to happen?
Get a 72-hour kit. Whether for home or office, it’s worth having an emergency kit. I’ve even got 72-hour kits for my car and home. If something goes wrong, I know I have the essentials for three days and perhaps longer.
For small businesses, emergencies come in all shapes and sizes. Plan ahead and plan to succeed.