How To Build A Small Business Continuity Plan – 5 Simple Steps
Why do you need a small business continuity plan?
Unpredictable circumstances affect not only the giants but small businesses, as well. In fact, small businesses are more likely to feel the pressure of disasters, cyberattacks, economic downturns, and unlikely competition.
7.5 million American businesses alone are at risk of shutting in 2020, because of the way the year has panned out. The small business continuity plan prevents you from making rash and impulsive decisions. It reduces reactive thinking. Therefore, a business continuity plan for small businesses is a necessity, and one of the important responsibilities of a small business owner.
However, the ins and outs of building a small business continuity plan can seem alien, especially if you’re doing it for the first time. This is why this article lists the basics, so you can build your very own plan!
1. Ask ‘Why?’
Before you build your plan, ask why you want to build it. This is the first step in a brainstorm.
A small business continuity plan can include steps that ensure your business runs effectively on a regular basis. It can also include steps your business can take in the event of a specific threat, (such as a recession).
How To Get To The ‘Why’:
The analysis, hypothesis, and steps you plan will greatly depend on why you’re making this plan. The best way to infer what the most contextual ‘why’ is to read what’s happening in the industry and how it impacts your business:
- What the upcoming challenges are
- How fast said challenges/ threats are approaching
- Any other predictions in the industry
- How those threats can affect your business
- How strong is said threat’s impact on your business
This will help you plan for the worst, even if it doesn’t actually occur. At best, you’ll have something to guide you through the tide. At worst, you’ll have a handbook for the future.
2. Ask ‘Who?’
The next steps in designing a small business continuity plan include working with a team and looking for solutions and steps to solve problems.
It can be very easy to look at things from the top down and present hypothetical solutions. However, such decision making isn’t always effective.
Those who work in the field, usually know what the field is like. Therefore, the smartest decision is to include employees from different departments to work with you on this.
The Advantage Of Getting The Right Whos:
The advantage of being in a small business is that there aren’t a plethora of employees to choose from for your small business continuity plan. Depending on the size of your business, those who work in the field might also be ‘department heads’.
Choose a dedicated team, decide a specific time in between regular work, and create this plan. This will not only expedite the process but will have all departments in the loop, which will make sure the plan is likely to have fewer changes.
Starting An Online Business? Build It On .Online!
3. Ask ‘What?’
Once you have the ‘why’ for your small business continuity plan and your team, you have to ask the ‘what’. There can be a lot of whats for such a plan. The first, however, is what the solution for perceived threat is.
You and your team can hypothesize about how to solve for a particular outcome, by coming up with various solutions. However, the best way to go about this is to see what’s been done in the past.
Why Precedents Work:
The advantage you have is that many small business continuity plans have been made already. Many small, medium and large businesses have navigated through threats and disasters.
You can take their precedent and modify it to suit your business. Tech changes, execution styles, work hours, culture, etc… can all influence your decision. Implementing a cookie-cutter solution in your small business continuity plan might only backfire.
A simple, but obvious example would be the use of tech. How people remotely communicated in the 2000s is severely different from how people do it in the 2020s.
4. Ask ‘Them’
Once you’ve built your small business continuity plan, the next step is to present it to relevant internal stakeholders. These stakeholders are:
- Department Heads (if they’re not already in the team).
Again, the advantage here is that you’re a small business. Chances are the entire business already knows about your small business continuity plan. But formally presenting it will allow you to test the viability of the plan.
The employees can suggest challenges, concerns, and alternatives. They may want to be part of the team, also. This is a great way of refining your small business continuity plan and will prevent you from working in an echo chamber.
5. Test Out Your Hypothesis
No, you don’t need to create an artificial disaster such as Dwight did for this episode of the Office. However, you can try out some of your solutions and see how they work.
Remote working, for example, has been mastered by many businesses and is even being recommended as a permanent fix by many. However, future cultural changes, tests, and challenges can lead to other changes in business practices.
Maybe you’ve read the research and want to implement a 4 day work week because your country, industry, or employees are leaning towards it. This can be a challenge.
How To Test Out Your Hypothesis:
To see how this affects your small business, you can design a small business continuity plan with a work structure, altered daily schedules, maybe work weeks with different on and off days, and test it out.
Set one week aside and implement these changes. Just for one week. And then try it again a month later, with a few more changes till you’ve mastered the 4 day work week (or any other continuity strategy).
Chances are, an asteroid is probably not going to hit the Earth, anytime soon. If that does happen, you shouldn’t be building a small business continuity plan. What’s more likely is the smaller hiccups or bigger in-world problems that can affect your business, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
In this case, it’s better to be prepared than be in an office with headless running chickens when disaster strikes. Various business continuity plans for small businesses, for different situations, can be life and revenue savers.
This article is a great place to look for what to do when you’re thinking of creating your very own small business continuity plan.