It’s been said before: one doesn’t own a small business: it owns you. No matter how many staff members you may have, the buck stops with you…and the sustainability of the business is on your shoulders. That’s why a business continuity plan is crucial for every business. Since we’re at the start of a new year, this is a great time to take a look at your plan…or create one, if you haven’t yet.
What is a business continuity plan?
Business continuity planning is a preemptive strike, a fallback course in the event disaster recovery becomes necessary. Your plan should take into account the basic item your studio will need to function, should a disruptive (and seldom anticipated) event occur. We’re talking about anything from a simple extended power outage to a data breach to a full-blown hurricane or out-of-control wildfire–both of which have taken a serious toll on communities within the last year.
In a recent post, Forbes Technology Council member Monica Eaton-Cardone put it very succinctly: “While you can’t stop nature from disrupting your business, you can minimize the impact with good planning and preparation.”
There are also other types of disasters, such as an accident that takes you out of commission, or a crisis that seriously hits your reputation. Of course, you’ll want to do all you can to mitigate your risk, but taking the time to plan for “what-if” can help minimize business interruption costs, get you back up and running as quickly as possible, and help keep vendors and customers informed.
Assessing your risks
First off, of course, it’s important to actually have a plan. If you’ve never bothered to put something down in writing, now is the time.
The first step to building your studio’s business continuity plan (BCP) is to assess the potential impact that various disaster scenarios could create. Try to imagine the most viable potential emergencies, then cross-reference that against the likelihood and impact of each event in terms of personnel, assets, finances, or personal danger.
The goal here is to set priorities. Looking at the “big picture” can help you develop plans for major disasters while also helping prepare for minor events such a power outage; it also lets you see how to divide your planning resources.
Creating the plan
Once you have a list of potential emergencies and their likely impact, take it a step further by creating strategies and documenting procedures to maintain services, recover any lost assets, and get your business back to making money, as quickly as possible.
One part of this process would be creating a list of what actually needs to happen, and in what order. In other words, it’s important to know what to do, but it’s equally important to know what to do first. A few areas to address might include:
- Personal safety and safety of staff
- Checklists for assessing damage to assets (vehicles, buildings, equipment, etc.)
- Prevention of further destruction
- Checklists of forms and contacts for insurance and legal purposes
- Replacing lost paperwork
- Incident-specific response checklists
Once you have a detailed response plan, it’s time to make sure your people know what to expect and what their individual roles are. Gather people together and go over their response to various emergency situations. This gives you a controlled setting in which you can hopefully identify gaps in the plans and come up with ways to improve them.
Is your BCP ready?
We often toss around the maxim, “Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.” The reality, of course, typically falls in between those extremes. But companies with well thought-out contingency plans have a better understanding of the potential dangers and know what critical actions are necessary to recover quickly and to minimize business interruption.