It seems like 2017 was particularly fraught with catastrophe — hurricanes, fires, riots — these events, both natural and man-made, are reminders of how important it is to have an up-to-date emergency plan in place for your small business.
Michael E. Gerber highlighted the importance of documenting the systems that make your business work — payroll, hiring, logistics, accounting and more. Many small business owners may track those things in their head, but in a real emergency that means that only the owner can take care of solving problems and answering questions. If you have clearly documented how the business functions, then any employee can take the lead on an element of getting you up and running again. Such as working on getting communications and network requirements re-established whether that’s at an undamaged house, in a hotel conference room or from any location that can provide your team with access to Wi Fi for a bit.
The same applies for keeping up to speed with customer service, training and ordering during difficult.
As the year draws to a close and 2018 is on the horizon, it’s the perfect time to make sure your business will be ready to face any catastrophic situation that could impact you and your employees down the road.
In an article for Entrepreneur, Heather Ripley outlined the four-key steps that small business owners need to consider when making such a plan. When you can identify the crises that may be more common in your area (such as car accidents, hurricanes, data loss, weather or political disruptions) you can best identify solutions.
We’ve discussed in the past why you should write a better business continuity plan and believe the best way to kick start the process is to perform a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA).
Not sure what an LCA will do for you?
Performing one will help your business eliminate some risks well before a crisis begins. Maybe you will find value in setting up multiple suppliers in different geographic regions to decrease the effect of a typhoon or hurricane in one place. You could find that phasing out an ingredient in your product now, before that ingredient becomes a target for protest, may add a selling feature to the product, decrease risk, and decrease environmental impact.
Gerber said it pretty succinctly: if a business isn’t up and running, no one is making money. Even if your emergency plan only allows your business to function at a reduced capacity for a while, that is better than not functioning at all! So take some time to document the who, what, where, when and how of your business. If you happen to find yourself dealing with a worst-case scenario, your ability to get the doors back open will help you cope with the stress much easier.
If you want to know more about how a Life Cycle Assessment can help you identify and mitigate risks, contact us or check our LCA services page to give you an idea of how they can guide your sustainability-guided continuity planning.