This week in Oklahoma, Governor Stitt announced a plan in which non-essential businesses can begin to re-open beginning on May 1st, 2020, in light of COVID-19. Regardless of whether you have an essential business, or a non-essential business, it is important to have a business continuity emergency plan prior to opening, or even if you are already open, it is important to develop a business continuity emergency plan if the coronavirus ramps up again. So, what is a business continuity emergency plan? A business continuity emergency plan is a plan that a business can continue its operations during a time of emergency or disaster. Such emergency or disaster could include a global pandemic like COVID-19, natural disasters, man-made disasters, utility failures, sabotage, and/or cybersecurity attacks. In today's blog, I want to share with you six steps to creating a business continuity emergency plan for your small business:
Step 1: Assess Potential Risks to Your Small Business
The first step in creating a business continuity emergency plan for your small business is to assess the potential risks to your small business. How will these risks affect the delivery of products or services to your customers? You should conduct a financial analysis of how a disruption will affect your small business. You need to identify the risks so you can identify how your small business can mitigate them. A major disaster that you should definitely include as a potential risk is fire. If your small business has a physical location, you need to ensure that your facility is free from fire hazards and meets all fire codes and regulations. You should also consider other potential risks and threats to your small business which can cause disruption, including other natural disasters, utility failures, and cybersecurity attacks.
Step 2: Find Alternatives
The second step in creating a business continuity emergency plan for your small business is to find alternatives. You need to consider who will be affected by a business disruption. Create a list of contact information for your top customers, so that you will be able to contact them regarding the emergency and reassure them that you are in the process of restoring operations to your small business. At the same time, you need to identify which employees are essential to the operations of your business and organize an emergency contact list internally for those employees. This list should not just list yourself or key executives; there should be a clear succession of management in case some employees are unable to work. If your office or facility is inaccessible, there should be a pre-arranged meeting place; and you should find out who can work from home so that teleworking is a possibility. This is especially true during the coronavirus pandemic when many businesses have been closed to the public. Teleworking, or otherwise working from home has become a major solution to continuing business operations during COVID-19. Lastly, arrange backup vendors or suppliers to provide your small business with critical resources or materials.
Step 3: Identify Critical Business Functions
The third step in creating a business continuity emergency plan for your small business is to identify critical business functions. You need to identify the key products and/or services your small business provides as the profit centers for your company, and then also the key customers or clients those products or services are delivered to. Which employees have the most significant role in delivering those products or services to those customers?
Step 4: Create a Plan to Maintain Business Operations
The fourth step in creating a business continuity emergency plan for your small business is to create a plan to maintain business operations. This is where the rubber meets the road. This part of the business continuity emergency plan should have at least three (3) different focuses: prevention, response, and recovery. Prevention strategies should include any actions your small business should take as preventative measures prior to an emergency or disaster. This would include setting up alternative communication networks, teleworking for employees, and fire prevention strategies. Response strategies include a detailed emergency response plan for your small business, evacuation procedures, and how your small business will engage the media, customers, and the public. Lastly, recovery strategies include creating a timeline for recovery of getting the business up and running again and what tasks are necessary to get back to recovery.
Step 5: Get Buy-In from Employees
The fifth step in creating a business continuity emergency plan for your small business is to get buy-in from your employees. If your small business has employees, it is important to get buy-in from key employees before you finalize your business continuity emergency plan. Once it is finalized, your business continuity emergency plan needs to become a part of training for new employees. It is important to not create the business continuity emergency plan in a vacuum.
Step 6: Put Your Plan in Writing
The sixth step in creating a business continuity emergency plan for your small business is to put your plan in writing. Your business continuity emergency plan should become a part of on-going training for all employees and staff. The document should include all the information you've gathered so that you can contact your suppliers, employees, roles and responsibilities of key employees, major client contact information, backup equipment and/or IT data, and the place of the off-site recovery location, if necessary. Once this step is completed, the plan should become part of training for employees, and your employees and management should become very familiar with the plan.
If your small business is needing help during this time of uncertainty and constant change, please feel free to contact me at [email protected] to schedule a free discovery call.
For more information about Liberty Legal Solutions, LLC, please visit our website at http://www.libertylegalok.com