Develop a resilience plan to prepare your business for anything
When you’re a small business owner, there are many threats that could be devastating to your business. Having a strong resilience plan in place can make all the difference.
When first getting into business, there are so many potential risks that some are easy to overlook. Many small businesses also consider certain situations so unlikely that they are not worth worrying about.
But, however unlikely a threat may seem, it’s never worth taking the risk with your business.
Putting together a resilience plan doesn’t have to mean setting aside huge amounts of money or spending weeks planning, yet it could be one of the most critical projects you complete for your business.
What are you protecting against?
While it’s best to be as thorough as possible, you must recognise that you’ll never be able to cover every possible scenario of what could go wrong for your business. However, by being aware of a variety of problems, you should be able to create a plan that is versatile enough to keep you protected.
Here are some of the more common threats you could face:
In 2016, 52% of UK businesses were affected by some type of cyber-crime, costing over £30 billion. This is one of the highest profile threats on the list, with 78% of businesses rating it as a high priority to guard against in 2019.
So far this year 32% of businesses have already identified attacks, including phishing emails, impersonations and viruses or other malware.
Fraud and scams that target small business are a big concern for business owners, with many still feeling that they are not fully aware or properly protected against the risks.
37% of business owners surveyed felt that they didn’t possess enough personal knowledge to protect their business from payment related fraud, and 82% want banks and the government to do more to help them.
Extreme weather and flooding
Although you may feel that changing weather conditions are unlikely to affect you in the UK, it can be a significant threat.
There has been at least one serious flood in the UK every year since 1998 and 60% of UK businesses have said they have no plans in place to deal with extreme weather, leaving many at risk of damage, disruption and lost revenue.
Illness and staff absence
Although the average level of absence in the UK is at its lowest since records began, with an average of only 4.1 sickness days per employee in 2017, there is still an impact on business that needs to be factored in.
It’s also worth noting that the average absence rate can vary significantly for different industries, with sectors like health and social work, transport and storage and public admin and defence having some of the highest percentages.
IT outages and power cuts
In 2017, UK business lost around 82 million hours to IT outages, and it is estimated that 545 hours of staff productivity are lost annually due to these issues.
These figures highlight how damaging a seemingly common and simple issue can be, particularly if it is not handled in a timely manner.
Terrorism and world events
There are many political and economic factors that may affect your business, and some of these will be at the forefront of your business planning, such as Brexit. However, others that may not be as widely publicised could still be worth considering.
It is also important to take the time to consider the threat of terrorism and other criminal activity that may affect your business as, while unlikely, they can have some of the most devastating impacts.
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What can you do?
Having identified a list of possible threats to your business and highlighted any that you feel deserve extra attention based on the specifics of what you do, you can now begin to take simple measures to become better prepared.
We’ve broken down 5 key focus areas to help you:
Begin by considering your employees and colleagues.
First, figure out how you will communicate with employees in the event of a disruption. This communication plan should include having a way to alert employees when they’re not at work if you need them to work at home, having a way to update employees about changes to protocol, risks or procedures, and how to communicate with the company in the event of an emergency disruption and evacuation.
You should also have a plan for the way you train staff to deal with threats and disruption. Some of these are obvious, such as having trained fire marshals who check the building in the event of an evacuation. Other training can include fraud prevention training or training in other roles that can help you to cover staff absence.
After people, you’ll want to consider your premises and the equipment stored there. Based on the risks you’ve highlighted as key to your business, there may be some obvious steps to take here.
Installing CCTV, fire doors, using flood-resistant materials, or imposing extra security measures when letting members of the public access your space are all steps you may want to take.
It may be that you need to tighten procedures up, like testing fire alarms every week, reviewing how you store information both physically and online and checking that your employees are aware of how to turn off amenities such as gas and electricity.
If it applies to you, the next area to look at is your supply chain. Try and remain aware of how much you depend on each supplier to run your business.
Diversify your suppliers as much as possible and consider using suppliers that operate from multiple locations. If you do rely heavily on one supplier, discuss their contingency plans with them and assess whether you will need to put additional measures in place.
The threat of fraud and cyber attacks cause a large problem for most companies as not only are they constantly changing, they’re also one of the newest types of threat that business must face.
For any larger business with a dedicated IT team, it is likely that this will fall under their domain and they will have a dedicated plan for this, although you may still want to check how well this is communicated with the rest of the business.
However, for smaller businesses and those that are not office based, you may still be in the early stages of implementing more technology into your processes. Making sure your data and intellectual property is safe must be at the forefront of this.
You can find a lot of advice online for ways to protect against cyber-attacks, but if this is an area where you have little background knowledge it may be worth outsourcing this job to a professional company.
When considering some of the above areas, you may have already touched on the idea of insurance to help you protect your business interests.
As well as considering areas that you should get insurance, it’s also important to review any existing insurance policies you currently have and make sure they still suit your needs. For instance, with late payment so prevalent, do you have credit insurance in place?
Additionally, it’s worth having a plan in place for how you will claim on an insurance policy if you need to. Who will oversee making sure it gets done in a timely manner, filling out any forms and communicating with the company?
It’s important to bear in mind that contingency planning is an ongoing activity that should continually be reviewed and tweaked. Having a good plan in place can not only prevent a lot of headaches in the future, but can also give you peace of mind right now that you’ve done all you can to keep your business safe and efficient.
As we’ve said, once you have a strong plan in place for a range of disruptions, you should find it easier to adapt to cover any other problems you might face.
Have you ever been caught short without a plan? Or have you found a great way of dealing with a disruption that you want to share with others? We’d love to hear what you think in the comments below!