For a small business like yours, anytime you have to shut
down operations or close your doors, you could be losing potential revenue. You
also risk permanently losing customers because they may switch to your
competitors if you can’t open quickly. Having a plan already in place will help
you minimize downtime and loss after an emergency. A business continuity plan
outlines the necessary steps to take to continue or resume business after an
unexpected disaster. Keep reading to learn five tips for creating your small
business’s continuity plan.
1. List possible events
Make a list of any disasters that are likely to affect your
small business, including natural and man-made disasters. Consider things like
hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, floods, active shooters, and cyber-attacks.
By listing the events that are likely to happen, you won’t waste time coming up
with plans for the events that are nearly impossible. For example, if your
business is located in the Midwest, you probably don’t have to worry about
If you already have an emergency preparedness plan, you can
use the list from that plan to save time. Learn more about creating an
emergency action plan for your small business.
2. Determine what’s essential
After a disaster, it can be difficult to operate for several
different reasons: high staff absenteeism; the inability to get supplies or
materials; interruptions in power, transportation, or your existing equipment,
and so on. It’s important to know what’s essential, so you can plan how to
access everything you need quickly.
what needs to be up and running quickly to keep your business afloat. For
example, you may need access to your inventory and point-of-sale system
immediately, so you can start selling to customers again.
what can be suspended for a short period of time and determine what that length
of time is. For example, you may be able to suspend incoming shipments while
you sell your existing inventory.
what can be suspended for a long period of time. For example, if you primarily
sell in store but occasionally ship to Instagram followers, you may be able to
suspend that option until your store is back on its feet.
After you’ve identified what you need to stay in business,
make a list of necessary personnel, equipment, data, and infrastructure. When
you’re making this list, keep a few things in mind:
You may not be able to pay your entire staff
during the recovery period. Consider the individual financial needs and
situations of your team members before selecting your essential crew.
You may not be able to use your equipment after a
disaster due to damage or power outages. Contact nearby businesses who use similar
equipment and work out a deal to use their equipment during your recovery
You may be unable to work with your current
supplier during the recovery period. Consider adding a secondary supplier who
can work with you on short notice.
3. Create a communication plan
After a disaster, it’s important that you contact your
staff, customers, and suppliers as quickly as possible to let them know what
your plans are for continuing operations.
Let your employees know who is responsible for contacting
your suppliers to postpone shipments or make other arrangements and who will
communicate with the public via press releases, your website, and your social
media channels. Consider assigning multiple people to these tasks in case the
primary person is unavailable.
4. Check your insurance
Your insurance company can help your small business get back
on its feet quickly. Review your insurance policy before a disaster to ensure
your information is up to date and that you have enough coverage.
Make sure you know how to contact the company and make a
claim. Keep copies of your policy in a waterproof and fireproof container, so
you can always access it when needed.
5. Document your entire plan
After you’ve determined which operations are necessary to
your business and created a strategy to have them back up and running as
quickly as possible, put it in writing. Keep digital copies and printed copies,
in case you don’t have access to a computer or the internet immediately
following a disaster.
Consider including a copy of your business continuity plan
with your emergency preparedness plan, so your employees can access both if