Robert Burns was correct when he wrote, “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” As much as every business owner wants to (and should) plan for success, at the same time they should also understand their ability to continually thrive may very well depend on surviving an unexpected crisis. Businesses that proactively plan for unforeseen events will likely be able to meet the rare but really tough challenges, while those companies who only focus on day-to-day challenges will find it extremely difficult if not impossible, to thrive beyond a true disaster.
A positive thing about considering “what if”, is that brainstorming about the worst that can happen provides immense value in helping business owners prepare beforehand to meet a potential challenge. If you are a business owner, consider how prepared your company will be if ever faced with one of these unexpected crises:
- Physical Damage – What if a natural disaster occurs such as a flood, fire, or an extensive power outage that results in physical damage to company building(s), equipment, inventory, etc.? Is your business prepared if such an event occurs?
- A Lost Resource – Vital resources are not always physical. Sometimes a business might rely very heavily on a supplier or a key employee that makes a valuable contribution to the company. If one of your suppliers goes bankrupt or a valued employee decides to leave, is your company prepared for that?
- Crime – Depending upon the type of business, a company could become a crime victim through theft of a physical asset, a virtual loss of data, or theft of intellectual property. Do you have a plan in place if your delivery truck is stolen or a hacker is holding your data for ransom?
- Data Loss – Data loss can occur in a variety of ways. Online data thieves and hackers are always looking for companies to exploit. Poorly trained employees may make an error that results in a significant loss of data, or perhaps a disgruntled employee sabotages the company before they leave. Regardless of the reason for the loss, most companies would be significantly hampered by a loss of corporate data.
- Equipment Failure – Sometimes equipment fails as part of a natural disaster. Perhaps a fire or flood has destroyed a company’s telecom systems, core IT equipment, or perhaps an owner was neglectful in replacing old, outdated equipment in a timely manner.
- Lost Access – Sometimes an external resource has its own data breach which wreaks havoc on your ability to do business. Perhaps a bank account or credit card is frozen due to suspected fraud by a third party, or a fired employee removes the ability for employees to access corporate software systems. As a business owner, are you prepared for such events?
Preparing a Plan
No business needs to fall victim to an unexpected disaster. Avoiding a crisis is within reach of every company willing to prepare a plan for potential disaster. An ideal way to start preparing is by employing a six-step process designed to tackle every catastrophic challenge. The first step begins with an analysis of a company’s vulnerabilities and risks. The second step involves assessing one’s current state of readiness, along with identifying weak areas. Step three consists of constructing a plan designed to thoroughly cover every area of a business with regard to each potential crisis.
It should come as no surprise since communication is so important, that step four consists of communicating the plan to the entire team so everyone is thoroughly trained on how to respond to a disaster. Step five includes regular monitoring and updating of “the plan” since over time most businesses naturally change and evolve. Lastly, step six involves bringing a fresh perspective to the table by employing external help. A new perspective that can help fill in the gaps by providing an additional level of expertise.
If you would like to know more about how to ensure your business survives and thrives beyond every potential crisis, please contact us.