As a business owner, you probably couldn’t help but notice the news of floods, riots and droughts over the past few years; and chances are, your first thought was, “How would my business survive?”
Unfortunately, history shows that 40 to 60 percent of small businesses don’t survive disasters. Your challenge is to work out how to get yourself on the right side of those statistics. That starts with a little risk assessment.
Evaluate your exposure
Determine the likelihood and potential impact of a disruption. You don’t have to experience a major disaster to have a costly disruption. One short power cut or telecoms outage can turn into hours of lost productivity. For some businesses low-tech alternatives may keep employees working and the business going but for many, pencil and paper are no longer feasible.
Moreover, problems don’t need to be nearby to disrupt your operations. Anything from bad weather to political unrest may impact the suppliers you depend on, causing you to lose income even when you’re a safe distance from the chaos.
Calculate the cost to your business
Initially, estimating the cost of a business interruption doesn’t seem too difficult. You look at what you would have earned had your business been operational plus expenses incurred, and those are your losses. In fact, if you have business interruption insurance that’s what insurers look at to calculate your benefits.
But what about the intangibles? You may want to consider the following:
- Customer churn. Even if you get up and running quickly after a shutdown, some customers will go elsewhere to fulfil their needs. You can either accept them as lost or put money toward winning them back
- Lost business opportunities. When clean-up and recovery consume all your time and effort, you may miss out on sales, new partnerships and other development prospects
- Reputational damage. Even if an event is unexpected, customers and potential customers may perceive your inability to recover as evidence of poor leadership. The perception can be even worse if the disruption is due to something predictable or under your control, such as a data breach
- Staff morale. Your employees may get impatient and frustrated as they wait for business to return to normal and that frustration increases when leadership is disorganised. Poor morale is difficult to resolve and can cause good employees to look for new job opportunities
Even though insurance may not cover these losses, a strong response to an interruption can boost public perception and assure stakeholders that your business is stable.
You can always enlist external help to assess your business’s risks and disaster readiness but, ultimately, you understand your business better than anyone. The following questions can help you solidify plans to manage possible business interruptions;
- Do you have secondary suppliers?
- What is your backup energy supply?
- What is your back-up internet / phone service?
- Are important documents secure?
- How will you access insurance documents?
- How will you contact employees and clients in the event of a disaster?
- Where will you work from in the event that your office is unavailable?
- Are computers, servers and backup data secure?
- Are employees trained in cyber security?
The cost of a business interruption can be as difficult to predict as the events that cause it, but that doesn’t mean you should take a wait-and-see approach. Develop a plan that can minimise the fallout and get your operation up and running again ASAP.
If you would like to explore the subject of Disaster Recovery and Planning in a little more detail, Benj can be contacted on 0333 567 0911 or via firstname.lastname@example.org.