Expect the Unexpected VIII – Top 10 Things to Do to Prepare for a Crisis
To Our Valued Clients and Friends:
This is the eighth in our series on preparing your business to weather unexpected events. Read Parts I – VII here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. This week, we discuss the top 10 things businesses should do in preparation for a crisis.
Preparedness is everything here – if we fail to plan, we are in effect planning to fail. If we don’t prepare in advance for the unexpected (to the extent possible), we get caught flat-footed and have to scramble when an unexpected crisis arises, such as a severe weather event (we in the Gulf Coast know a good bit about these!), or even a global pandemic such as COVID-19.
Top 10 Things to do in Preparation for a Crisis
- Assess your situation, and identify the Top Three Threats to your business. Develop 5 first steps to take in preparation for each threat.
- Create a plan to address each of your Top Three Threats.
- Ensure you have cash reserves on hand to handle any unexpected expenditures and/or delays in receipt of client payments – we recommend at least 3 months’ worth of regular operating expenses.
- Secure your data – it should be backed up, preferably on a daily basis, but weekly at a minimum, to a secure offsite location, readily accessible via remote connection but with all possible security in place. Ensure files and folders are accessible to those who need them, and not to those who don’t. Store passwords in a central, secure location such as LastPass.
- Equip your team with laptops and secure network software (e.g., Citrix) to enable them to access the data they will need to work remotely. Keep all hardware and software up-to-date.
- Make sure there is a central application for team communications. A Microsoft Teams group is a good option, as is GroupMe, but you can use group texts, group emails, an internal-access-only page on your website, or another method that works for you and your team.
- Establish clear, specific team roles during a crisis – and make sure there’s some redundancy – i.e., if x cannot do something, y will take over. This strategy goes for business owners, too – someone, whether a team member, a colleague, or other designee(s), should be ready to take over leadership in case you cannot fulfill this role. Be very clear with each and every member of your team as to their roles and responsibilities, and whom they can turn to if they are unable to carry them out. Let them know what you or your designee will be taking on.
- Communications with clients and other key players (such as key suppliers, outside IT administrators, etc.) will be a necessary element of crisis response – ensure this job gets delegated appropriately, and that each team member knows whom they will need to reach out to if necessary.
- Communicate your plan to all team members. If questions arise, or if anything requires further clarification or detail, incorporate this into your plan.
- Test your plan – in all its steps and phases – at least annually. Revise as necessary when testing reveals gaps or flaws.
If you are having trouble formulating your preparedness plan, we recommend you consult with your CPA.
How prepared are you? What did the most recent test of your preparedness plan reveal? Are you ready for the next crisis when it happens?
Please click here to email me directly – I’d love to hear about your experiences.
Until next Wednesday –