Is your business prepared
In the last few weeks, the devastating effects of the floods across the UK to small businesses has been immense. Even for those not affected it reminds us that we should be making sure that our business continuity plans are up to date and that the staff are fully briefed.
If you are unsure what a business continuity plan is, then you should start to produce one as soon as possible.
What is Business Continuity Planning?
Business Continuity Planning is about identifying those parts of your business that you can’t afford to lose – such as information, stock, premises, staff – and planning how to maintain these, if an incident occurs. Any incident, large or small, whether it is natural, accidental or deliberate, can cause major disruption to your organisation.
The main benefit of having the management and a plan in place is that you will be able to start trading quicker and prevent additional loss of customers and confidence in your business.
How do i start a business continuity plan?
The complexity of the Continuity Plan will mostly depend on how complex your business is:
The main points to consider are:
- What are your organisation’s key products and services?
- What are the critical activities and resources required to deliver these?
- What are the risks to these critical activities?
- How will you maintain these critical activities in the event of an incident (loss of access to premises, loss of utilities etc)?
From these questions you can develop an action plan with lists of suppliers, key contacts in critical organisations (utility companies, insurance) and who is responsible for dealing with getting your business up and running as soon as possible.
For the most basic example, if you have a power cut – your phones and IT equipment will be down – are you able to divert your phones to another phone (landline or mobile) so you can take customers calls. Many virtual telephone numbers have online portals accessible via smartphones that allow you to divert your calls quickly and easily to another number. If all staff are dealing with the incident or your phone lines are down, you may consider using a telephone answering service, so that your customers calls are being answered professionally and any enquiries or orders are being dealt with.
You may need a telephone answering service for a day, or in the case of more serious incidents, such as flooding, for weeks. This will only be one item to do on what will be a very large list but ensures that you can get on with managing the clear up rather than worrying about your customers call.
With serious incidents, your business premises may not be accessible and are you able to provide your customers, clients and suppliers with an alternative address for your correspondence?
You may want to use your home address, but giving out your personal and private details online may not be the most secure and certainly confidential way forward.
One solution is to use a mail forwarding or virtual address service, whereby you can use their address temporarily for the business mail, which you pick up from the virtual office or have forwarded to your home address. The Virtual Office keeps your details confidential.
If you don’t have a business continuity plan, or need to update your current plan, click on the link and this government produced document provides you with a straight forward, easy to understand approach, and there are numerous free business continuity plans and templates on local council websites.