Earlier today I was at a half day seminar titled Business Continuity for Small Business. It was offered by the York Small Business Enterprise Centre and York Region. The speaker was Ann Wgyanowski MBCP, MBCI, CBRM from BCP Help. She offered a comprehensive approach to what we all need to consider for business continuity planning and emergency management.
The two key aspects to this are:
- Emergency Procedures and Crisis Communications and,
- Business Continuity – what you do next to keep business running.
Before today’s seminar I considered a small business emergency to be; fire, flood, tornado and environmental accidents. But they are just a small representation of what an emergency could be for our businesses. Additional emergencies to consider are; Extreme Hacking, Product Recall, Hardware Failure, Fraud, Adverse Publicity, Lawsuits, Infectious Disease and Death of a Key Executive. And what if your staff bought a winning Lottery ticket and immediately quit their jobs? That is another type of emergency. And there are at least another 20 possibilities on the list supplied by Ann.
So where do we even start to be prepared for something that may never happen? For me the consistent theme that I could relate to was Communication.
Communicate with your staff and others that help you bring your services or products to market what your emergency plans are, prior to an emergency. This includes;
- Ensuring the safety of those who work for and with you,
- Where will they work and how will they be paid if the current location is no longer viable to ensure continuity,
- Who should be contacted in case of medical emergency?
Communicate with your clients and customers immediately what you can or can’t do if an emergency strikes your business. If you can still supply your services or products to them, consider these:
- What is the best way for them to communicate with you?
- How will they get their orders or work to you?
- Can they pick-up or will you deliver? And,
- If you’re not able to meet their needs, is there a third party vendor that you can make temporary arrangements with to keep the customers satisfied?
Keeping those individuals that keep you in business informed is vitally important if you want them to be there when you’re back to business. Don’t forget to let them know how you will be accepting payments.
Communicate with your vendors any alternative ways or locations to receive products or services. With a cohesive plan in place your suppliers may not be as concerned with how you’re going to pay them versus a panic call to action where they may demand payment in advance.
Communicate with your bank or other financial institution prior as to how they could support you. Perhaps you can pre-arrange lines of credit or loans. Determine what information they will need.
Communication prior to an emergency is also needed with;
- Your Insurance Company – you need to understand exactly what is and isn’t covered. Do you have business interruption insurance?
- Your Technology Support – ensure you have secure back-ups and test the back-ups regularly to make certain they are working. If your current onsite system was destroyed how long would it take to get back up and running and what would you need to make sure that happened in least amount of time?
York Region has an excellent website for Emergency Management.
If you have additional communication considerations or have ever had to deal with a business emergency where you temporarily had to stop your operations, I would appreciate hearing your story. Don’t forget to leave a link back to your own blog, via the commentluv feature here on the site.
Until next time,