What Is Business Continuity?
It often seems that to succeed as an entrepreneur, you have to be able to think about 20 things at once. You have to keep an eye on your existing operations, scan the competition, strategize your next move forward, improve your customer service… the list truly is endless.
As a result, the idea of being told there is something else to think about is unlikely to be a welcome one. Your plate is full, you’re working hard, and it may sometimes feel like there’s simply no room left in your mind to consider another aspect of business. This is entirely understandable, but there is one extra area you need to dedicate a little time and attention to: business continuity.
Given we have acknowledged you are likely overworked and overloaded, you may be wondering why business continuity – a term that is undeniably opaque – is something you still need to consider. However, business continuity genuinely does justify the extra time – and we’ll explain why below.
What is business continuity?
Business continuity is a catch-all term that is essentially used to refer to dangers to your business – and, most importantly of all, how your business will survive them. Understanding and strategizing for business continuity is about examining the worst-case scenarios, and then creating a roadmap for how your business will continue to operate after those scenarios.
What kind of scenarios?
The following scenarios all pose a genuine threat to your business’ continuity:
- Weather. Adverse weather events are unfortunately becoming more common, and this is a trend that is likely to continue as the impact of climate change gathers pace. Examples of adverse weather events include storms, droughts, and periods of extreme heat.
- Fire or floods. Fires and floods at your business premises can be the product of a natural disaster, but they can also occur due to an accident, negligence, or even as a deliberate act.
- Digital threats. One of the most common challenges to business continuity in the 21st century is the threat of hacking. Ransomware is, unfortunately, part and parcel of the modern business experience, and the threat of data breaches is ever-present.
- You. While not the most pleasant of subjects to consider, one element of business continuity is strategizing for what will happen to your business if you pass away. If you have employees who rely on the salary you provide, this is a particularly important area to consider.
- Economic disaster. The financial crash of 2007/8 still looms large over the global economy, and some experts are already predicting that such an event could happen again. Businesses folded at an alarming rate due to the last crash, and small, lifestyle businesses are particularly vulnerable.
It should be noted that the list above is not exhaustive. Literally anything that could realistically be a threat to your business’ ability to operate can be included as a scenario that requires business continuity planning.
What is the point in worrying about these scenarios?
It’s true that the list above makes for fairly alarming reading, but the intention of business continuity is not to scare or cause unnecessary worry. Business continuity principles focus on acknowledging that these disaster scenarios can and do happen… and then seeks to set out a strategy for coping with such an event.
While it may initially force you to confront concerns, business continuity is actually a great positive. By contemplating the potential disaster scenarios today, you have the time and resources available to plan how your business would survive them.
Why is this beneficial?
Let’s say that there is a fire at your place of business. The fire is severe, and you lose nearly everything: your files, your plans, your paperwork, your hardware, and so on and so forth.
Without effective business continuity planning, you are forced to face this event alone. You are financially harmed, you can’t continue to run your business as you normally would, and you now have to contemplate starting again from scratch. At the very least, your business is going to have to close while you recover from the fire, which means your income will be reduced to zero until you’re back up and running again.
However, with effective continuity planning, your business can survive. You will almost certainly need to close for a few weeks while you cope with the initial aftermath, but it won’t be the end of the road for your business.
What are the most important elements of business continuity?
There are numerous methods that can be utilized to prevent against disaster scenarios. These include:
- Forward planning. It is helpful to write down a list of things you would do in the aftermath of each of the scenarios that we discussed earlier in this post. This doesn’t need to be comprehensive; a list of bullet points, a few contact details of those you would ask for help. Should any of the disaster scenarios occur, this document gives you a basic blueprint of what to do next – something that you will appreciate at a time when you are likely to be struggling with a huge amount of stress and upset.
- Effective insurance. The importance of good business insurance cannot be understated; it could be the difference between being able to continue your business and having to close down. It is vital to spend time perusing your options for business insurance, picking through the fine print to make sure you find the best policy for you. It’s also important to ensure you have an understanding of the claims process and how it proceeds; take the time to read through an article or two prior to purchasing a policy, just so you can be sure you’re purchasing insurance that is genuinely suitable for your business’ needs.
- Cloud storage. This is by far the best way to protect the digital information that your business relies on to operate. Storing data and files in the cloud is something that concerns many business owners, but with the right precautions, the cloud is one of the best ways of protecting your business’ ability to overcome a disaster scenario.
- Prepare your will. If you haven’t already, setting out your estate and your plans for the business can provide valuable peace of mind that also helps to protect the future of your business.
While business continuity is not a particularly pleasant subject, it is an important one, and it is highly beneficial if you can find the space in your schedule to implement the ideas above. Hopefully, there will never be a need to action your business continuity plans, but if a disaster scenario does occur in future, you can at least be confident that your business will be able to survive.