Do you know what business continuity planning is and do you have a plan for your business?
Before 2012, I had never heard the term business continuity. Not good for someone who works with entrepreneurs to help them start and grow businesses. If you were writing a business plan, there is a section on risks and usually it is filled in with fluff we think the bank wants to hear. However, it is more important than ever that this section of your planning process is a priority.
Business continuity planning is the process of creating systems of prevention and recovery to deal with potential threats to a company. In addition to prevention, the goal is to enable ongoing operations before and during execution of disaster recovery.
When I studied Business Continuity Management in 2012 as part of a government upskilling program, it was primarily with the intention of supporting governments and businesses after disasters such as hurricanes and volcanoes. I don’t remember a global pandemic as a test case. Now as we move into a second year of life with a global pandemic it is a necessity for you whether you are a business of one or thousands.
As I speak, Caribbean nations are scrambling to figure out how to stop the escalation and spread of the virus among their people. At the same time, keeping their borders closed has wreaked destruction on finances and government resources to be able to starve off a crisis.
In other parts of the world, in addition to planning around a pandemic, they may be dealing with terrorism threats, kidnapping of critical staff, etc. You have to know your business and what are the essentials to keep it operational.
You need a business continuity plan even if right now there are no active cases of the virus, even if no hurricanes are swirling in the Atlantic.
Protecting Your Family and Business
If you have ever heard a public service announcement from your local or national disaster management agency, they encourage you ahead of a storm to make sure you have enough cash on hand, candles, canned goods and non-perishable foods to be able to sustain your family for a few days until systems can be restored. Having a plan of how your family will be cared for in an emergency helps everyone to maintain a measure of calm and can lessen the stress of trying to figure out in the moment what to do.
This is the same for your business. If you lost access to your physical shop, how could you serve your customers? Could you switch to digital only services to maintain contact and deliver what they need? If your computer systems were hacked, do you have your data backed up at another location or in the cloud which can enable you to continue to serve your customers? If you have staff, what resources do you have to allow them to continue working from home?
Does your business have a critical component that is needed to stay operational? What is it and what can you do to make sure a back up is on standby for your use? A critical component for a baker could be access to flour or cooking gas. How much flour is available? What if your main supplier is unable to acquire more flour? Where can large amounts of flour be stored safely so it does not go bad?
Take a long hard look at your processes.
What happens if someone is ill? Can someone else in the office do their job? If you had to outsource it, where could you find this support and at what cost?
Now that this crisis has been prolonged, many people have lost what reserves they have, planning for future emergencies while living through one seems impossible. But we want you to stay in business. We want you to be able to care for your family and your community needs you to continue to deliver the services you offer.
Stay safe and blessed.
Nerissa Golden is media and business strategist and the author of seven books, including In Plain Sight and The Making of a Caribbeanpreneur: Strategies for Overcoming Fear and Building Wealth. Subscribe to the Caribbeanpreneur newsletter for more tips and ideas to help you grow your business.