Keeping the lights on during a power cut
Debunking myths about business resilience and continuity planning
Starting and running a business is really hard work! It takes grit and determination to succeed. But success can be fragile, and without notice the results of all that work can be taken away. Unfortunately, bad things can happen to any business at any time. It is how we handle these events that can make the difference between a business recovering or it failing to do so.
I would like to dispel of the myths about business resilience. At the end of the day a business continuity plan (BCP) is simply a plan to keep the keeping the lights on during a power cut – creating an approach to protect your reputation while you set about getting the business back on track.
No business is too small to have a resilience plan
In researching this article, I asked a number of small business owners for their thoughts on business resilience and the need to have a plan. The answers I received varied; however, a theme emerged with several saying, “I don’t think I need one, there is only me who works in the business”, “my business is too small to need a plan” or “BCPs are for large organisations”. Whilst I understand these opinions (after all small business owners are used to wearing many hats and multi-tasking) I disagree with them.
No business is too small for the owner or manager to not spend time thinking about the risks which could damage the business, what they would do if something bad was to happen and how they would recover from it.
Unlike larger businesses, smaller businesses are particularly at risk from bad things having a huge impact. If something did happen there may not be anyone around with the time, skill or knowledge to help while the owner or manager focus on resolving the issue. Not having a plan to manage and resolve the incident could result in lost time, poor communication, increased reputational damage and in the worst-case scenario the business not recovering at all.
Things do go wrong especially when we do not want them to
I am sorry to say this, but it is a fact of life that things go wrong, and inevitability they will be when we least expect or want them to.
For some reason resilience and continuity planning has become synonymous with having data backed up in the ‘Cloud’. However, a good resilience plan will cover more than just a plan for backing up data. It will also create a useful set of guidelines and principles to be used in the event that the back-up fails and there has been a total data loss. Ideally it should outline how such a situation should be resolved while keeping clients informed.
Clearly it is not possible to think of a resolution for every conceivable risk. A good plan will provide sufficient guidelines to handle a wide range of risks, ranging from the loss of a key clients or the failure of a supplier to how bad weather may impact the business.
If something did go wrong, surely it would be covered by insurance?
It goes without saying that business insurance is essential. It provides cover where material loss such as a fire or flood. But it is not without limitations.
For instance, insurance may not pay out if you make a mistake which means the business is unable to trade. It is unlikely that it will fully compensate you if your customers have to go elsewhere while the business gets back up and running, and it will not help you to win them back. Remember, of you cannot serve your customers you competitors will!
A business resilience plan is not going to protect against bad things happening, but it will provide a roadmap for managing and recovering. More importantly, it will provide a view on where risks are in the business so that as a business owner you can to check what risks are covered by your current insurance and if necessary, arrange special cover for things not usually covered by traditional business insurance.
Having a plan for resilience is too expensive or a luxury
There is a misconception that having a plan is expensive or an expensive luxury to have. However, if an unexpected event was to occur, how long would it take to get back to work and how much business would be lost? It is in this context that prices for having a resilience plan should be viewed.
Having a plan can actually be quite affordable when we consider the fact that even for a business with turnover of £50,000 per annum, a lost day costs over £200. That amount (perhaps more) is lost each and every day that the business is unable to operate normally. For businesses with a higher turnover this amount will be far higher.
If a plan is not in place it can be a lot more expensive and take significantly more time to manage and resolve an issue. All the while clients and potential clients are looking at competitors and the reputation of you and your business may be going down.
Hopefully this article has helped to debunk some of the myths around business resilience, it is not very expensive considering the potential damage to reputation and lost business. It is not just for ‘big business’, lots of things can go wrong and not all of it is covered by insurance. I would highly recommend that even if you don’t engage with a business resilience specialist, spending time thinking about the risks which could impact your business today. We live in challenging and changing times and as COVID-19 has shown a lot of our assumptions about the world have been found to be false.
Geen Robin Solutions works with small to medium businesses helping them to navigate a rapidly changing world. Green Robin Solutions has particular expertise in helping professional services to achieve “Operational Excellence” and an accredited Lexcel consultancy practice.
We offer a no obligation 30-minute consultation to discuss resilience, continuity and disaster planning, and more widely how problem processes within your business can be dealt with.