We all know spring showers bring May flowers, but they can also bring power outages, flooding and other incidents that could wreak havoc on your business. In the following excerpt from the third quarter issue of Kettle Talk in 2012, RCI member Brian Pelletier shares tips to help you prepare your business.
Do you have enough to worry about with your chocolate shop that you can’t sleep at night? Would you like more things to worry about?
For example, what would you do if a natural disaster like a flood or hurricane hit? What if your shop caught on fire? What if one or more employees is injured? What if your electricity goes out for an extended time? Or what about a much smaller crisis, like spilling a cup of coffee on the computer that has all your company financial data on it?
Experts recommend that every company has a Business Continuity Plan to ensure that your business is sustainable after a significant interruption caused by a disaster or any other disruptive event. That can be anything from a single component failure to a man-made or natural disaster that broadly impacts your company’s physical assets, buildings or people.
The first step in planning is to understand what functions are critical to your business, and how different disaster scenarios can impact you. For example, if your power goes out and you can’t make product but can keep your store open, can you still take credit cards as payment? The “what-if” scenarios for threats and vulnerabilities are endless, but it isn’t difficult to identify the critical points that can have the biggest impact on your company, and that you need to address.
The next step is to define your business continuity strategies. For example, how does the organization want the business to perform and what options are available? Do you have alternate facilities if you can’t use your current shop? If you lost use of your computer, do you have your data backed up somewhere? (And is that backup kept right next to your computer where it might be lost in the same disaster that destroys your main computer, or is it stored online in the “cloud” where you can easily access it?)
Once you have a plan developed, you need to communicate it. Make sure your employees know what they need to do if something goes wrong, and how they can best be in contact with you.
Some simple tips:
- Have emergency equipment and supplies like fire extinguishers, first aid kits, and flashlights available and stocked up.
- Conduct regular emergency and disaster drills with your employees – ask them some of the “what if” scenarios, and make sure everyone knows what they’ll need to do if disaster strikes.
- Train at least some of your staff in first aid and CPR.
- Make sure your business insurance is up to date and includes something about business continuity.
- Back up your business data regularly and frequently, to an offsite location.
- Review your disaster plan at least twice annually to ensure the information remains current, including employee and vendor information.
The following organizations provide free preparedness information and tools as resources for small businesses: