During these two years of economic struggle and the seemingly never-ending COVID spikes small businesses learned that being unprepared amidst rapid change will likely cost them profits and perhaps the business entirely. All businesses, both large and small, are affected by the pandemic, but small businesses were unquestionably hit the hardest. In fact, small businesses have the greatest risk of permanent closure mostly due to Covid-19. Building resilience to rapidly changing times requires many things, including cash flow, the right technology, employee commitment and planning.
Eisenhower's quote highlights the need to constantly plan, revise, plan and revise to remain well prepared for changing times and circumstances.
Business Continuity Planning (“BCP”) is the process of finding potential weakness in a company’s operations and creating protocols to deal with them when disruption occurs.
Disaster Recovery Planning (“DRP”) is a set of tools and procedures that allow the restoration of vital business information, processes and/or systems following a disaster or loss of the primary sources.
Both Business Continuity Planning and Disaster Recovery Planning keep business operations as resilient as possible. Something small businesses can’t afford to ignore or push to the back burner. Most of the things we worry about – and plan for -- rarely happen; it’s the things we never think of that do the most harm. Even if a business keeps a backup, it’s important to understand how long will it take to restore operations & data to it available to employees and customers. Until this happens, a “recovery” can’t be declared.
Any significant business disruption can unfold quickly and in unanticipated ways. From weather to power outages, political events or virus outbreaks, every organization needs a business continuity plan to ensure its business operations can continue, no matter the disruption.
Examining the catastrophic damage caused by the tornados in Kentucky last week, most small businesses were wiped out. Amazon’s distribution center was destroyed. Under these circumstances, with loss of life, missing people and emotional strife, it’s a lot easier to invoke an up-to-date plan than start asking what the plan is.
It’s not just about data, it’s making certain access to business operations (data, phones, applications, collaboration, etc.) stays in place from a remote location while primary business location is inaccessible or considered not safe. Over 2020 and 2021 working remotely surged in both popularity and necessity, perhaps changing the work landscape forever. During the pandemic, 90% of U.S. companies restricted travel and 62% of all organizations increased virtual and remote work models. With the surge of Omnicron variant, the world may revisit lockdowns and increased remote work.
With the right preparation, small businesses can reap the benefits of a Business Continuity Plan that includes Disaster Recovery. These benefits include: - Limit Interruptions. Remove the need to handle each crisis as an independent event. With a Business Continuity Plan, small businesses standardize their disruption response to minimize downtime. The less downtime, the less money lost. - Outline Alternatives. Plan B is part of planning. Have a plan to pivot to a time when business must close its doors, reduce hours or limit capacity. For instance, if a salon is closed for a month due to Covid-19, it should have a way to use telecommunication, stay in touch with its clientele and allow customers to continue booking future appointments. That way, revenue is ready for a quick restart once the business reopens. - Empower Employees. Business continuity planning ensures every employee is on the same page during a crisis. With a set protocol, employees know how to carry on with their jobs, contribute to recovery and ensure consistency, which provides peace of mind.
Business Continuity Planning starts with finding internal challenges. While there are many factors that can contribute to a crisis, such as economic volatility, staff safety and/or government advisories, a business's lack of planning and/or obsolete technology should not compound the path to resiliency.
Even after two years of a global pandemic, many small businesses continue to rely on outdated tools and systems that compound crises. During early pandemic-related shutdowns, many small businesses discovered that their pen-and-paper systems made it difficult to respond quickly to necessary changes.
When information lives in only one location and has only one path for access it runs the risk of getting lost forever. Imagine compounding an extremely challenging time trying to recover from a disaster while also trying to run payroll and keep up with customer demand.
Modernizing technology helps cut internal bottlenecks and gain access to essential information anytime, anywhere. Customers can schedule appointments and communicate even when doors are closed, and employees benefit by staying productive. Modernizing technology doesn't necessarily mean a huge capital investment. A combination of the right protocols, training, software and hardware can create an effective Business Continuity Plan.
Small businesses must remain ready for the next disruption, whether it’s a natural disaster, a burglary or a data breach and the best time to start planning is now! Roark Tech Services is an expert in Business Continuity Planning, including Disaster Recovery options, uniquely qualified to help small businesses stay safe & competitive. Always consult with us first. If you don’t have an IT Partner that you can trust to give you the right support and advice, we’d love to help. Contact us.