All businesses face unexpected risks, from power outages to cyber attacks. Even unanticipated weather events can threaten the smooth running of your organisation. But you aren’t powerless to protect your business against risk, even if it seems to come out of nowhere.
Smart business owners put plans in place for even the most unlikely worst-case scenarios. This is what is known as a business continuity plan, and it could be one of the best things you do to safeguard the future of your company.
What is a business continuity plan?
A business continuity plan is all about preparing for the unexpected. It involves imagining a range of different risks and scenarios, and how your business would cope if the worst should happen. It can cover a wide range of situations, such as fires, floods, terrorist attacks, natural disasters, cyber attacks, power cuts, accidents and other disruptions to usual service. It’s all about asking ‘what if?’.
Once you’ve assessed the risks, you can start putting simple yet effective measures in place to mitigate the damage such an event would cause. For example:
- Diverting phone calls to an outsourced centre if communications networks go down.
- Regularly backing up vital systems data, just in case of a cyber attack or power outage.
- Storing important documents in fire-proof facilities.
- Putting funds aside every month as a contingency, just in case a client or customer doesn’t pay on time or the business faces a financial crisis.
Why is business continuity important?
Too many businesses fail to consider the impact of a disaster until it’s far too late. They assume their staff can cope, or that insurance will cover any losses. In many cases, companies find it difficult to dedicate enough time and resources to business continuity planning.
But it is absolutely critical for companies of all sizes to have a robust business continuity plan in place. A 2017 study by Invenio IT found that an enormous 90 per cent of businesses without a continuity plan fail following a major disaster.
The measures such a plan outlines will make your business more resilient and able to withstand whatever the future may bring. You can’t predict unexpected events – that’s what makes them so dangerous. What you can do, however, is take a proactive approach to shield your business from the worst effects of these events.
How to ensure business continuity
Business continuity planning all starts with assessing risk. Set aside dedicated time to look closely at the areas where your business would be most vulnerable to certain types of risk. You’ll need to ask yourself a lot of questions, and be brutally honest with the answers. For example:
- How long would it take to get your systems back up and running after a power outage, and how much would that cost you?
- How much damage would the failure of your customer service phone lines cause to your brand image and reputation?
- What effect would data loss have on the running of your business?
It can also be very helpful to work with experts, and to partner with specialists like CALLCARE who provide a range of emergency services to ensure business continuity in the face of disaster. These services include telephone disaster recovery, so at least your phone communications will continue running smoothly even if you’re facing a tough cleanup operation.