Expect the Unexpected III – Designing Your Response Strategy
To Our Valued Clients and Friends:
Welcome to the third in our series on preparing your business to weather the unexpected events that we know will occur. Read Part I here, and Part II here. This week, we discuss how business owners can begin creating an individual preparedness plan.
As we’ve discussed in Part II, we recommend that first, you identify the top three threats your business is likeliest to face, based on factors including, but not limited to:
- Weather-related events
- Unprotected infrastructure
- Technological vulnerability
Now it’s time to take a hard look at how to come closer to disaster-proofing your business; you can use RFG’s Top Three Threats Tool to list each of these threats and five first steps you need to take to address the risks arising from these threats.
One strategy we think particularly useful is to start by adopting a ‘meta-readiness’ approach. This approach will enable you to take the steps necessary to be ready, generally, to address the specifics of any threat, having prepared for threats in general.
We recommend the following steps as a start to your Response Strategy:
- Ensure your technology and data storage resources are secured, accessible and that backup systems are in place.
- Set your team up for remote work to the extent possible.
- Review your Business Interruption insurance to ensure it provides sufficient coverage. If you don’t have such coverage, get it.
- Ensure you have a business continuity plan in place in case of an unexpected change in company leadership.
- Keep your business premises in good repair; this will at least mitigate physical damages. And make sure your insurance coverage is up to date!
- Ensure all your contact information is kept current.
- Make certain you have all insurance policies, your articles of incorporation, licenses, and other key documents kept safely and accessible electronically as well as physically.
- Keep your team well-informed of all plans and who will be responsible for what tasks (such as client notifications), records, projects, etc.
- If evacuation is anticipated, know your team members’ individual evacuation routes and planned landing points, and include them in the plan along with your own.
- If you anticipate power outages that could cause damage to your premises or equipment, consider a backup generator. If you obtain one, set it up for automatic regular testing.
- Clearly delegate one or more decision-makers to take charge in the event you are temporarily unable to fulfill this role yourself.
- Have cash reserves on hand to deal with contingencies as they arise. We recommend at least 90 days of operating cash.
When you’ve developed steps to address the specific challenges each of your top three threats is likeliest to pose for your business, complete your Response Strategy for each of these threats. Provide your team with these Response Strategies, and address any questions, concerns, and/or ideas that arise. Input is essential – other perspectives may complement your own, and your team may very well be able to help you strengthen your Response Strategies.
“Meta-readiness” involves flexibility and adaptability rather than a set of protocols. Because you don’t address the unpredictable successfully by being over-predictable yourself. To maintain this state, review and update all your Response Strategies at least annually, and make sure every update is communicated to your team, and their feedback sought.
We are already better prepared than we were a year ago – we’ve had the lessons the pandemic has taught all of us to learn from. Some of us were at least partly prepared already, having had to deal with severe weather-related events, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and flooding.
But the fact that we are better equipped now to deal with the unexpected than before the COVID-19 pandemic just illustrates the need for continually updating our Response Strategies in light of experience, new information, and any new potential threats.
What Response Strategies have you developed for your business?
Are you “meta-ready?”
Please click here to email me directly – I’d love to hear what strategies you’ve developed.
Until next Wednesday –