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How Invincible is Your Business?

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I’ve been reminded this week that none of us are invincible. Unfortunately, one of my clients was taken seriously ill and although her family and colleagues have rallied around it got me wondering about how prepared small businesses are for disasters.

Research shows that between 60 and 78 percent of small businesses don’t have a business continuity plan, or, to use a more pessimistic name, a disaster recovery plan. However, it’s the freelancers and small businesses which are most vulnerable to the impact of disasters.

Human beings have a tendency to believe we’re invincible… ‘it won’t happen to me’. Nobody likes to think about the unexpected occurring but when fire, flood or cyber-attack hit you’ll be reassured if you’ve got a plan to follow. Working through various scenarios which could negatively impact your business and deciding on processes for dealing with them will give you peace of mind.

Think of it as a handy solution list to keep your business in operation and running smoothly. Investing time and effort in developing your plan now can save a lot of stress, headaches and lost clients in the future.

Creating a Business Continuity Plan

In essence a good continuity plan focusses on prevention and cure. Preventative measures to reduce the chances of a problem occurring can be really simple, chances are you’re already taking some. The cures are the solutions which will keep your business going when a problem occurs.

The key areas to consider are listed below but you may think of more relevant ones for your specific business. Ask yourself these questions:
– what steps can you take to prevent or reduce the likelihood the problem happening?
– how would you deal with the problem?
– how can you reduce the potential impact on your clients?

Illness

If you suddenly became ill do you have a trusted colleague, associate or friend who could provide cover? If not perhaps it’s time to have a discussion with someone you trust about doing so. If they’re a freelancer in the same industry you could provide each other with emergency back-up.

In case you’re incapacitated, consider the key documents which would help someone standing in for you:
Contacts list – of key suppliers, associates and clients – with details of who they are, company name, phone numbers and email addresses.
Standard procedures and processes used within your business.
Passwords and access to systems/ files.

IT issues

We’re so reliant on our IT systems and files that losing them can make working impossible:
Website hosting or email account being unavailable
Internet service failing
Loss of digital files due to malware, ransomware or server crashing

Preventative steps:
Use a reputable website host and reliable email provider
Back up files regularly on an external hard drive and in the cloud
Keep antivirus software up to date
Use strong passwords

Equipment/ infrastructure

Identify your crucial physical assets, such as:
Mobile/ landline
Computer/ laptop
Other equipment eg: printer, camera, vehicle
Workspace

Could you access any spares, from friends or family, as a back-up? How quickly or easily could you replace items? Would they be covered on your business insurance? Ensure your insurance policy number and claims phone number are listed on the plan.

Test your plan

Run through various scenarios to test your plan as this may highlight any areas or information you’ve missed. Remember to review it every six months or so as your business will develop and practices may change over time. Print a few copies and store them in different locations, not just on your hard drive!

So, whilst you may not be able to predict the future you can be pro-active in protecting your business from disasters. It’s time to be smart and build your business resilience. For more detailed information on creating a business continuity plan visit the FSB website.

 
 

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