How to Maintain Business Continuity in Uncertain Times

Business continuity planning should be an essential priority for any business including small and medium sized companies just as it is for large companies. Every year, around 20% of all businesses face an event that is unplanned and unwanted that may just challenge their survival. The threats may come from fire, flood, theft, illness or something much worse, but regardless of the problem, businesses that successfully recover are those that have planned their response in advance.

All businesses are unique and there is no generic template that can be applied to every business. However, the following areas of consideration when it comes to continuity planning can act as a start point to prepare your own plan:

Property

Unforeseen circumstances can affect your business premises fast. Businesses are more likely to be flooded than burnt down, according to the Flood Risk Assessment board. The average cost of losses from a flood are £28,000, compared to £1,033 for a burglary or £7,300 for a fire. If you’re setting up business in area that is prone to flooding from more than just the occasional burst pipe in winter then flood prevention should definitely form part of your continuity plan.

Aside from natural disasters, local laws can mean that owning your property doesn’t mean it’s yours forever. A compulsory purchase order, for example, can mean that you will be obliged to leave your offices should a local authority want to build infrastructure on the land that your building currently occupies. Although you will be compensated if forced to move in this way, the logistical challenge and upheaval to your business could be detrimental to your operation.

Staffing

Issues around staffing are always a problem in smaller companies. The fewer staff a business has, the bigger the impact when someone is ill or unable to attend work. When it comes to business continuity planning it is essential that managers and deputies are available to cover illness and work effectively in challenging circumstances and adapt to changing situations. Employee illness can be minimized whilst improving wellbeing through offering benefits such as health insurance. Look into the kind of policies available as providing healthcare can reduce the amount of time employees miss work due to illness by acting as a preventative barrier through regular check-ups and fast access to doctors.

Liability

All businesses rely on the skills and experience of its employees. This can become problematic in areas where the advice and services you provide is of a technical nature, and that advice ends up being wrong or damaging to your client. You could be liable for damages, putting a potentially serious financial strain on your business. Liability insurance is an essential for any business to help avoid the affects from when one small mistake can have unexpected impacts.

Information security is an increasingly important issue for modern businesses, and an area where a company will be most likely to be found liable for failure to protect their customers’ data. Last year 90% of large and 74% of small organisations reported suffering some kind of data breach. Help is available online with advice on how to prevent the loss of customer data.

Changes to industry

Many industries are in a state of flux, with traditional roles and company structures being waylaid as the diversification of modern business roles on unabated. Technology has changed the way we communicate, do business and ultimately consume. The publishing industry is an obvious example as traditional print media, whilst being revolutionised by advances in digital, has at the same time been seriously affected by it with wages and staff numbers being driven down as the cost of production and the number of people required falls. Including industry changes within your planning can help you to identify these future trends and make adjustments to your business as you move forward.