If a disaster were to strike, would you and your business be prepared? Whether it’s an earthquake, an economic downturn, or taking emergency medical leave if you’re a “solopreneur”, it’s important to have a business continuity plan in place.
While a business continuity plan can vary in detail and initiatives for different organization types and sizes, it’s important to have a plan in place in order to minimize the disruption to your business. In this post in particular, we’ll highlight what this plan could look like for small businesses and tips for preparing your own.
Determine key roles and responsibilities
When forming a business continuity plan, a key starting point is highlighting who needs to be involved. If you are the sole business owner, do you have other industry colleagues or family members who can assist if you are unable to work? If you are a small business with a handful of employees, who will be responsible for what key functions that will allow the business to continue operating?
By defining who will be involved ahead of time, you enable yourself or your team to be proactive and confidently perform necessary tasks to stay afloat in a time of crisis. For example, if you are a team of three, one individual could be responsible for ensuring monthly transactions continue, another could be responsible for customer communication, and the third could be responsible for scheduling and staff communication. If each individual is assigned to set tasks and have a clear understanding of each, they can be implemented immediately as necessary.
Ensure easy access
Now to get into specifics, what tasks do you need to consider when putting together your continuity plan? These will depend on your organization type, size, and operations. However there are a few that can be carried across any organization.
An important first step is to ensure that your continuity plan is easily accessible for your team to review if an emergency arises. Investing in a cloud storage solution such as Google Drive or Sync is a quick way to achieve this. Within this platform, store your continuity plan and ensure that the rest of your team has the appropriate permissions to view and download so they can easily refer back to in times of crisis.
The second is to ensure that everyone can access the programs they utilize on a regular basis. For these programs – what are the steps to log in, and are the appropriate employees equipped with the login credentials? Examples as such can be your website, bookkeeping software, employee scheduling software, social media platforms, and more. By providing your team with access to the key programs they utilize on a regular basis, key individuals can easily jump-in to help ensure that operations continue as smoothly as possible. A great recommendation to securely share passwords among team members is Zoho Vault.
Review and test
As mentioned, each continuity plan is unique and will vary in terms of procedures and tasks. However, once complete, it is crucial to review it with your team. A key component of your plan’s success is ensuring it is shared and communicated in advance. This will allow for your team members to digest and feel comfortable with the plan, but also ask questions on specific procedures that may lack clear instruction or might have been forgotten when the plan was being developed.
It’s also important to test your plan. Try working your way through it from start to finish – are there any elements that were forgotten, or not as smooth as you’d hoped? Testing your plan provides the opportunity to make small adjustments and address any weaknesses.
Building a continuity plan doesn’t need to be tedious or scary – in fact it can also be a great opportunity to identify small changes that could help with team enablement, accessibility, and productivity.
If you’re in the process of putting your business continuity plan in place, make sure to check out this post from the BDC, as well as our latest post which provides resources specifically around maintaining payroll during periods of uncertainty.