If you own a small business, you might be seriously thinking about continuity plans right now. With all that’s going on with Covid-19, business owners are having to think about how to keep it from destroying their business.
Even the smallest of businesses have to think about things like dealing with sick employees and disrupted supply chains.
It shouldn’t take a worldwide pandemic for businesses to think about business continuity plans, however.
If you own a business, there are situations that can occur individually that may leave your business wondering what’s next. For example, if you, as the owner, are injured in a car accident or become ill, what are the plans for your employees and your business?
What if there’s a local natural disaster issue, like what Nashville just faced with tornadoes?
If world events are forcing you to think about continuity plans for your business, then it’s probably a good time to get proactive and consider the following in doing so.
Know What Business Continuity Is
First, before you can develop any concrete plans, you need to understand what business continuity is, and small businesses may not be fully aware of the meaning of the term.
Business continuity is a process and plan in addition to defined procedures to identify risks and threats, estimate the potential impact of these threats, and determine how to be prepared and resilient when faced with said threats.
Business continuity management is a blanket term that integrates incident management, disaster recovery, emergency notification, and of course, business continuity.
Regardless of the threats most relevant to your business or your industry, the overarching goal of any business continuity plan is to keep your company operational and reduce any downtime.
A business continuity plan can address natural disasters, cyber-attacks, or specific incidents.
Assess the Threats
The first foundational step to a business continuity plan relies on understanding threats, not just in the general sense, but also those threats most relevant to your business. Not all threats are going to pose the same risk level to you.
You have to narrow down the most relevant threats so that you can create a realistic continuity plan.
When you’re creating a continuity plan, beyond assessing the threats, the next foundational move to make is determining what’s essential for your business to stay operational or get up and running again.
You want to create a plan that ensures those essentials are available right away.
This could include certain staff, data, equipment, and financial elements.
What do you need to have in place to deliver your critical service and products?
What specific steps might you need to take to make sure you have the essentials?
For example, could you come to an agreement another business to use their equipment?
As far as identifying critical operations, ensure that each operation has a staff member assigned to oversee them. The staff member should know what supplies they’ll need and how to carry out their role in very specific terms.
A broad term to describe this area of the continuity plan is developing recovery strategies. Recovery strategies are an alternative way that you can bring your business operations to a minimum acceptable level.
To go back to the Coronavirus example, telecommuting is a continuity strategy some businesses are putting in place around the country and the world. With telecommuting as a recovery strategy, businesses may be able to keep a lot of their essential functions up and running while reducing the risk of virus exposure.
If you don’t already have telecommuting plans in place, this might be something you start thinking about today. Would your employees have a suitable work environment to telecommute? Are there are any cloud-based solutions you should consider implementing to better facilitate telecommuting?
Once you have a fairly specific continuity plan in place, you have to make your employees well aware of what it is, how it works, and when it will “kick in.”
You need to train your employees and ask for their feedback because they’re ultimately the ones who are going to be carrying out most of this plan.
Your business continuity plan is something that will always be evolving with your businesses’ changing needs and with the world itself. Review it and update it often, and then if you ever need it you’ll be happy that you’re not scrambling and instead have a clear plan for what to do whether it’s a small event or a large worldwide event that is posing a threat to your business.