To Our Valued Clients and Friends:
This is the fourth in our series on preparing your business to weather the unexpected events that we know will occur. Read Part I here, Part II here, and Part III here. This week, we will discuss how business owners can ensure their businesses will continue in the event they are temporarily or permanently incapacitated.
In any disaster, or even in their absence, there is the chance a business owner may be injured, become ill, or even pass away. As business owners, we have a multifold of responsibilities – to our clients and our employees, as well as to our families, and ourselves. And a business continuity plan is the best way to ensure the first two responsibilities are met when we cannot meet them ourselves.
Since you’ve already identified your Top Three Threats as well as the general steps to have in place to deal with the unexpected swiftly, it’s time to create your Business Continuity Plan(s). Note that you may need more than one if your Top Three Threats differ significantly from one another in precisely how they would impact your business.
Steps to take:
- If your location makes weather-related events a top threat, make sure you have an evacuation plan and an alternative location from which to conduct your business. This plan may involve physical facilities, or it may just require that your team is properly evacuated, along with their laptops if they are set up for remote work and have access to your servers. If they aren’t and don’t, consider remedying that.
- Designate someone – this can be a team member, a member of your family, or a colleague, as appropriate – to take over the leadership of your business if you are unable to maintain it, temporarily or otherwise. Then designate an alternate – redundancy here is essential, as consequences of unexpected events tend to be unpredictable. Consider giving this person a springing power of attorney, which would only go into effect if certain circumstances occur.
- Spell out every team member’s role and responsibilities in ensuring business continuity. Update this at least quarterly as projects and tasks are completed and replaced with new ones.
- Ensure that communications remain open – have a central voice mail, team text group or message board, or other means of obtaining up-to-date information. Designate someone to maintain and update information daily if you are unable to do this. Microsoft Teams is a great tool for this task.
- List your key vendors and suppliers, and make this list available, with up-to-date contact information, to your designated successor and your team.
- Ensure your team’s computer equipment is portable, secured, and able to access your data remotely.
- List your key software programs – if you have an outside provider of IT services, coordinate with them, and ensure all software is remotely accessible.
Communicate your plan(s) to your team and request their input. Revise the plan(s) as appropriate afterward.
Test your plan – at least once annually:
- Enact or simulate your evacuation plan, if that is part of it.
- Ensure that each team member can list their responsibilities, and the order in which they should execute them, if possible (be flexible).
- If a data breach is among your Top Three Threats, hire someone to try to hack your system.
- Keep an eye on your cash reserves – you may need to provide employee advances to your team under some circumstances, and you will likely need to cover basic business costs for some time, potentially extensive.
While some elements of emergency-preparedness can be used in most plans, your own business situation is unique – it’s an excellent idea to consult your CPA on the specifics.
Do you have your business continuity plan(s) all in place? When did you first institute the plan(s), and Why?
Please click here to email me directly – I’d love to hear about your experiences.
Until next Wednesday –