What if the unthinkable just happened to your small business…
…loss of a key employee
…a road construction project that limits customer access
…loss of a major contract
…a disaster like a flood or fire
…supplier fails to deliver
We hope these haven’t really just happened, but these are all real situations our small business clients have encountered in the past few years and very few of them were prepared. It can be extremely challenging for small business owners to be ready for all things that might come their way, so we’ve prepared some tips to help you think about what you will do when an unexpected interruption occurs in your small business.
Tip 1: Back up your data!
These days, so much of our key business information and day-to-day work is done on computers. Hard drive failures, natural disasters, and viruses are just a few of the things that can destroy your data. If you’ve never backed it up, it may be gone forever. There are easy options for backing up your information. We recommend choosing more than one method so you’re prepared for anything that comes your way. This may even include printing out some of your key contacts or business information in case you need to access the information during a power outage. We’re going to bet you’ve thought of this, but haven’t done anything about it. You need to do this right away!
Tip 2: Have a plan…and communicate that plan!
While we know all businesses don’t have the ability to create in-depth plans on every possible scenario, no matter how small your business, it is well worth your time to think about what you would do if the unthinkable were to happen. Inform your employees or key partners of your plans and be clear about how you plan to communicate during a crisis. Keeping in communication with employees, customers, suppliers, and others is key, especially in times of chaos and disaster when the rumor mill can go crazy. If you are a sole proprietor, think about whom you can call on to help if something unexpected occurs – especially if something happens to you and you can’t fulfill your obligations.
Tip 3: Stay in the know!
Running a business sure can consume all of your time, but a great way to plan for possible disruptions is to keep yourself informed. Knowing what’s happening within your business, in your local community, the region, and even nationally within your industry are key to staying proactive versus reactive. Knowing when road construction is planned, a supplier is shutting down, or how your town deals with emergencies all before these things occur can be a great help in your preparation. There’s no one way to stay informed – scanning the local and national news, reading industry publications, skimming social media, and getting involved on committees are all ways to be sure you have access to information.
Further, if you have employees who are responsible for managing aspects of your business like access to data or communications, be sure you also know how to access information and what to do in case of emergency. Loss of a key employee can present huge challenges for a small business if that employee has access to information no one else does.
The worst possible thing you can do is delay this any longer than you already have. We completely understand business owners are short on time, so we’ve developed a brief, practical process for evaluating a business and developing a disruption plan specific to that business. Things like backing up data, using social media and web sites, considering new markets for products and services – can all help you prepare for future disruption.
Contact The University of Scranton SBDC today to set up a free, confidential meeting to get your business disruption plan in order. You don’t want to experience the unthinkable without it.
The University of Scranton SBDC
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