Continuity Planning for Small Businesses

Continuity Planning for Small Businesses

Introduction

In every business, nothing goes according to plan. The COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 has exemplified this for us as it was a situation which nobody envisaged. During the pandemic, businesses were constantly threatened with a financial recession for an indefinite period.   Small businesses are on precarious ground in this environment; thus, it is arguably critical for them to invest in business resiliency in order to secure their operations. As a result, it is of utmost importance to develop a business continuity plan in order to keep the company running. Making a long-term business continuity plan is like making a real estate plan: everyone knows they should do it, but they don’t think it’s necessary until it becomes necessary.

Consider this: is your company ready for the worst-case scenario? If you’re not completely certain, it’s time to devise a backup strategy.

We’ve put together a business continuity plan guide to help you prepare for just about any “what-if” calamity to safeguard your company’s survival.

What is a Business Continuity Plan?

A business continuity plan is an operational plan that assists a business’s decisions during a crisis in order to avoid significant commercial losses. Natural calamities such as earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, and other natural disasters cause most of the disruptions. Organizations can handle emergencies with the support of a business continuity plan. The continuity plan’s objectives include laying out the specifics and steps to take in order to keep the firm afloat during pandemics.

A continuity plan’s objective is straightforward: it lays out the exact, must-do measures that will keep your organization afloat in the event of a calamity. Consider your company continuity plan to be a “BREAK GLASS IN CASE OF EMERGENCY” document. You never want to think about having to use it but having one on hand can save your life.

What are the benefits of having a Business Continuity Plan for a Start-up?

Because start-ups’ foundations are fragile, they are more likely to fail during a crisis. Start-ups, like any other company in the world, from Fortune 500 corporations to small and medium firms, need a business continuity strategy to keep operations running smoothly during unexpected events. Whether a small organization or a multinational corporation, business continuity planning will eventually assist companies in responding promptly when disruption occurs while reducing the negative impact on operations.

Employees at start-ups will have a stress-free working environment thanks to a business continuity plan. Working online nowadays causes a lot of stress among employees, which leads to lower productivity and a sense of uncertainty. It’s not a good indicator if you’re continually thinking about “what-ifs.” Sharing the business continuity strategy with employees requires communication and team engagement.

Creating a business continuity plan for a crisis also aids in determining the company’s weaknesses in all areas. Identifying a company’s flaws aids in prioritizing the most important parts of growth and profitability. A business continuity plan provides a unique chance to determine what is required for a company to remain competitive.

Some scenarios in which a business continuity plan is required

The economy is in a downturn.

A suffering economy is plainly terrible news, whether you’re wanting to get funded or sell straight to consumers. This is especially true if your product or service is considered a luxury or is reliant on discretionary cash.

Cyber Attacks

Nearly half of small firms suffer from security breaches and hacking, and start-ups are no exception. Even in the near run, a sudden shutdown of your servers, consumer finances, or communication could be fatal.

Natural disasters

From earthquakes in California to hurricanes on the Gulf Coast, 40 percent of firms that are directly affected by natural disasters fail to reopen. While remote work makes it easier than ever to get back on your feet in the event of an in-person disruption, having a reaction strategy in place is critical.

Service interruptions that occur unexpectedly

Let’s pretend your start-up’s service is based on a SaaS tool or a social networking platform. What happens if a policy change or closure occurs unexpectedly? Is pivoting possible? Such a situation is always possible when your organization is completely reliant on platforms that are outside your control.

Unexpected dismissals or walkouts

Unexpected dismissals or walkouts are also possible outcomes. Not all crises occur outside of your company’s boundaries. From internal conflicts to key staff leaving in droves, your company’s survival shouldn’t be dependent on a single individual. 

Important aspects of a business continuity plan

Developing a business continuity plan for small and medium-sized organizations could be a challenging task. However, it is focused on building a resilient business that can operate with considerable staff absence and on a tight budget. But, before you put pen to paper, make sure you’ve completed all the steps below to ensure your disaster plan is solid.

  1. Identify the objectives of your strategy: In general, organizations’ continuity plans will have numerous plans for different scenarios (“If A arises, we perform B. If C occurs, we execute D,” etc.). A more basic continuity plan that covers a variety of emergencies can be used by most start-ups. Because you’re probably already short on time and resources, this strategy offers the bonus of being significantly faster. You can also make use of a template. Regardless, the timeframe and complexity of your continuity plan should be tailored to your company’s needs. Your plan will be much simpler if you’re a bootstrapped start-up that does almost everything in the cloud rather than a company with external servers, an IT team, sensitive customer data, and so on.
  2. Examine the threats that may affect your business: The company’s prospective dangers must be discovered and then thoroughly assessed in this step. Within the team, discuss the threats while lowering, removing, or changing important business functions connected to the identified issues that will have an impact on the organization.
  3. Identifying Essential Business Functions and Run an impact analysis: The team must figure out how to keep the company’s core business functions running during a crisis. Here you’ll list the most important functions of your company (think: your website, servers, payment processor, campaigns, other automations).

You may determine what would have the worst impact on your business if these processes were to be impacted based on these procedures. Businesses usually rate their effect on a scale:

Minor

Moderate

Major

Critical

In the event of an emergency, prioritizing these activities allows you to determine which are your top priorities for protecting, responding, and recovering. This can help you avoid analysis paralysis and motivate you to act rather than wait for things to get worse during a crisis.

  1. Preparing Plans for Each Business Function: An action plan must be prepared in order to retain basic functionality while guaranteeing that all problems have been handled. Specifics such as important emergency personnel, critical functions, action process details, communication strategy, employee absenteeism monitoring activities, decision-making process, and resource allocation should all be included in an action plan.
  2. Decide on essential roles for carrying out your plan: Although not all your employees will be involved in the creation of your continuity plan, you should determine who will be on call in the event of a disaster. While you’re in recovery mode, some staff may not be affected, while others may have to take on entirely new tasks. As previously said, your strategy should not be written in such a way that its implementation is dependent on a single person. Given the high rate of turnover in the start-up sector, you might consider drafting a more generic plan that newer workers can understand.
  3. Make a list of your action items: You’ll need to write out your plans for responding to and recuperating from every emergency. This is a step-by-step guide to what you should do in the event of a crisis.
  4. Examining the Plan’s Effectiveness: Immediately the business continuity strategy is in place, it must be properly examined to ensure that no errors remain when it comes to applying it during pandemics.
  5. The Continuity Plan Test and Update: After the business continuity plan has been evaluated, the next step is to put it to the test by holding an exercise with the employees so that everyone understands the action plan and how it will work once it is activated.

Conclusion

Start-ups and FTSE 100 firms are both suffering financial hardships as a result of the unforeseen COVID-19 outbreak. It is critical to keep the firm running during this critical period, and a business continuity plan is one weapon that can assist you in surviving in an emergency. It will not only provide you a competitive advantage, but it will also reduce your financial risks. As a result, a business continuity plan is a lifesaver for start-ups struggling to cope with disruptions in all aspects of their operations.

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