In business, many things are predictable, but disasters, crime, and loss of staff may pose significant threats to the success of your business. A recent report by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has revealed that many business owners in the UK are not sufficiently prepared to handle unexpected disruption to their business.
A business continuity plan can help to safeguard your business against both internal and external disasters. Implementing a business continuity plan covers some of the major areas of risk by providing protocol and steps to take to avoid significant disruption.
Cybercrime is prevalent in our modern world and as such poses a risk to businesses. Phishing emails and malware, just to name a few, can cause a great deal of disruption to a business, especially if you rely on the use of computers and other devices for a significant part of your work.
Cybercrime is common, but that doesn’t mean it has to affect your business; ensuring the installation of the latest software updates on all company devices and usage of high-quality firewall and anti-virus systems, which are updated regularly, will help protect your business from daily threats.
Implementing a robust password policy for work devices is key to protecting against cybercrime. It is also advisable to create a company policy on how to identify potential cybercrime issues, which can be circulated to all staff members. Reaching office workers with cyber policy updates isn’t enough, however. All policies and procedures must reach mobile workers as well in order to maintain cybersecurity across your entire business network.
Your business is important, and as such, houses important data on all of its computers. Backing up data onto an external drive or a cloud storage system regularly will prevent significant loss of data in the event of a cyber attack.
Loss of key staff members
Most businesses rely on key individuals, so you need to consider how your company would be affected if anything happened to them. A key staff member could be anyone, including yourself, another director, or an employee who is essential to the successful running of your business.
Insuring and monitoring your ‘key people’ will protect your company against any potential financial loss in their absence. Keeping up-to-date notes on each key person’s responsibilities, and ensuring that another person can act as a back-up when required, is crucial to enable your business to continue to run smoothly.
Severe weather and unexpected incidents
Adverse weather conditions, such as heavy snowfall, flooding, or disasters, could mean that staff are unable to come into the office for one day, or many. In addition, fire, flooding, theft and accidents can happen at any time and could cause severe disruption to your business.
It is essential to have in place an appropriate and current Buildings and Contents insurance policy. If you have records saved on an external drive, you should ensure that a copy is kept in a secure location off-site. Where relevant, ensure prototypes of your products or services are kept off-site too. Leakage of privileged information and future business plans can significantly disrupt your business.
Transport disruptions can also affect businesses financially. Staff delays or no-shows often mean that production is halted or deadlines are not met. In many scenarios, offering staff the option to work from home or at an alternative location may help to reduce the impact and allow your business to continue operating.
Creating a disaster recovery team
Creating a dedicated disaster recovery team helps your business to plan for any potential catastrophes. Your disaster recovery team should analyse potential areas of risk, and have the responsibility of overseeing the running of the business until normal service can resume. This should be a team of trusted individuals who are well-versed in the running of the business and can easily provide support in the face of disruption.
Your business continuity plan
A complete and thorough business continuity plan should include:
- the names and emergency contact details of your disaster recovery team
- your insurance policy details
- step-by-step instructions on how to recover from the main scenarios which could affect your business
- procedures for testing the plan, to ensure that it is effective and to iron out any issues
- a timeframe for regular reviews, to make sure that your plan remains up-to-date and reflects any changes in the structure or running of the business
While beginning a business continuity plan on your own is helpful for your understanding of your company in adverse situations, using an adviser can provide you with proven strategies that can help with the smooth running of your business.