It’s human nature to think that the worst won’t happen to you. That is until you’re faced with the unimaginable and wish you had a business continuity plan. We see it every time we turn on the news. Floods, tornadoes, earthquakes, and fires that take people by surprise, destroying their homes and businesses.
I don’t want to paint a picture of gloom and doom, but chances are you will be impacted at some time by an event that will endanger your business. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be a natural disaster. Cyberattacks, power outages, even employee error can disrupt and threaten your business.
Still not concerned? Consider this statistic provided by the U.S. Small Business Administration: Approximately 25 percent of small businesses never reopen following a disaster. Now that’s a reality check.
You can, however, take steps to lessen the impact if and when disaster strikes. The first step is to put together a business continuity plan that can be implemented quickly whenever your business is disrupted for any reason. Start by answering these questions:
- How can you assure your employees know what to do during a disaster to keep themselves safe, including those in the field as well as the office?
- Which parts of your operations are mission critical and need to be operational as soon as possible? How much time do you have to get those operations up and running before your business begins to suffer?
- Who should be on your disaster recovery team? Which key areas of your business should they represent?
- How will you communicate to employees, partners, customers, and the public? Take into consideration that typical forms of communication, such as cell phones, may not be available.
- Is your data backed up at a separate location? How quickly can you retrieve that data when you need it?
- Is there another location you can work from if your facility is damaged? Will your current building need modifications to protect against earthquakes, floods, and other catastrophic events?
- Will your insurance plan be adequate to get you back in business after a disaster?
Also, don’t forget about your supply chain. Even if you are not impacted directly, a disaster affecting just one of your material suppliers or subcontractors can also disrupt your business. Identify which vendors and subs are most critical to keeping your operations running and request that they have a business continuity plan as well.
Finally, revisit and test your plan regularly to make sure it will be reliable when you need it most. According to a 2014 IT-related survey conducted by the Disaster Recovery Performance Council, approximately 23 percent of organizations with a plan have never tested it.
I’ve covered just a few things to think about to protect your company. Other helpful resources include sba.gov and Ready.gov, which also has specifics on how to put together a business continuity plan.
How resilient is your business? Being prepared will help you bounce back even in the worst of circumstances.