I’m talking a business continuity plan (a plan detailing threats and how you can continue your business if things happen unexpectedly) and until now I’m sure very few small businesses thought they needed one. But then along came Coronavirus and forced us all into a business pause situation.
Ok, few people even blue-chip companies could have planned for a virus creating this havoc. But I can bet you that their planners will be noting every issue that has occurred during this period and will be busy ensuring that they are better prepared in the future.
So, do you need a business continuity plan?In short yes you do. We may (hopefully) never see our businesses interrupted to this extent ever again but something as simple as a power cut or more devastating such as a salon fire can leave you unable to operate your business. Better to be prepared now whilst you have time to think than be caught out trying to think on the hoof during a crisis again no matter how small or big.
So now that I’ve convinced you that you need one how do you actually pull one together?
1. Think through what potential threats there could be to your business, this could be anything you can think of that may cause a major issue for your business. This could be a short-term issue like your water supply being interrupted in the middle of a busy Saturday to a longer-term issue such as the car park beside your salon being sold off for building leaving your customers with nowhere to park. Once you have thought through your issues note them down in a list, this is the start of your plan.
2. Now look at each individual potential threat you have noted to your business and work out how you would manage to continue your business in the face of this threat. For instance let’s say your water suddenly goes off and you have clients in the salon waiting to have dye washed off … is there a friendly nearby business that you could arrange to support you? Could you have a few litre’s of emergency water stashed somewhere? The point here is that you have time to think through your options, in a crisis you won’t have this luxury, and that is the point of the plan! You won’t need to panic cause you already know what you will do …. you have a plan.
3. As part of your planning process consider what equipment you use and couldn’t operate without having such as hairdryers or syringes or whatever tools you need to do your job. What supplies do you need, not what you like having, but need absolutely need to operate your business? If for instance you need to temporarily operate from another premise how would you get your vital supplies there or let you suppliers know where you are?
4. If you needed to move your venue where potentially could you go? Could you set up at home or be mobile, take time to think this one through and plan accordingly.
5. Do you have a backup of your business-related documents? If your premises went on fire for instance do you have a backup file with your client details or appointments? If you were burgled are your client personal details safe?
6. If you use software to book your clients in, where is it all backed up? What about your phone lines? Your card machine? Do you have a way to email your clients to keep them updated to keep them coming in if you have hit potential issues?
7. A good means of understanding the importance of the plan is to think through potential financial loss if your business is interrupted. I’m sure this is very much at the forefront of your mind just now, but for your scenarios think through the real time cost of those occurring to your business.
8. Make sure your plan covers your business processes such as clients getting to you, how they get appointments etc. If your business needs to alter, how do these processes continue to work?
9. To make the planning easier try splitting it into 3 phases, your planning phase which is what you are doing now, your response phase which is the what you do in response to the business threat and lastly the back to business phase which is the plan for getting back to business a usual as quickly as possible.
10. Who needs to know about your plan? If you have staff they all need to not only know there is a plan but they need to know how to action it, also a great idea to include them in the planning process as its likely they will think through some scenarios that just didn’t occur to you at all as well as some great solutions.
11. Remember this plan may help you to limit business interruption, minimise damage to your business reputation and reduce financialloss to your business reputation and reduce financial loss to your business
Founder and CEO - The Beauty App