Your business survived 2020, and 2021 is looking brighter. Thank goodness! Luckily, surviving means you're doing as good as you can be. But there are a lot of businesses, including your competitors, that may have survived but you can see that they're not going to last long. They're struggling, getting by, making ends meet, but not thriving. They need help, and sadly, they can't see for themselves that they need help!
It's easy to see how other people can improve and fix their business, yet we can be blinded to our own needs for improvement, even if those needs are clear to outsiders. Looking at our own imperfections, and asking for help to fix or minimize them, is one of the most challenging actions we face daily. Multiply that challenge by 1,000% when it comes to something as near and dear to our hearts and egos as businesses we've built ourselves.
One of the biggest challenges with bringing the concept of Business Continuity to the world of small business is that it is often viewed the same way fitness and health advice is viewed for our personal life, i.e., "That is a great idea for everyone else, but I'm pretty good myself, thank you for asking!"
In the spirit of self improvement with the new year, let's look at how key Business Continuity principles can be applied to your own business, instead of just to your competitors' business, to make 2021 your best year yet!
Do a high level Business Impact Analysis / Risk Analysis / Continuity Requirements Analysis for your business.
Why is this a great place to start? Let's look at the primary benefit of each analysis step:
Business Impact Analysis (BIA) - Allows you to identify which business processes are key to your business being able to function, and quantify the value of those processes to your business. This allows you focus your recovery efforts in the event of a disaster, with the added benefit of allowing you to direct continuous improvement efforts towards the processes that will most benefit your business in day-to-day operations.
Risk Analysis - Allows you to identify potential risks and their likelihood/impact level to your operations. Then you can implement risk mitigation steps, immediately improving your business' resilience.
Continuity Requirements Analysis - Allows you to prioritize which processes to recover first in the event of a disaster. In the middle of a disaster, you don't want to waste time recovering a process that you can live without for a few days at the expense of a process you ned right now.
If you need a framework for a high level BIA/RA/CRA for your business, check out our handy resources here to get you started.
Make a list of all key people in your organization that would be involved in managing and recovering from a disaster.
This needs to be more than just roles. You have to have everyone's name, role, phone number(s), and email(s), in order to be able to reach out them directly when needed. A disaster is a poor time to have to think about, "We need to get our head of maintenance on the phone! Who was that again?" You need a name so that you know exactly who to contact.
Share this list with everyone on it, gain their understanding as to why they're on it, and ensure they have copies for their reference. Everyone needs to literally be on the same page when it comes to business continuity!
Schedule time, minimum quarterly, to review your BIA/RA/CRA and contact list to ensure everything is up-to-date and still relevant.
You want to make sure all the hard work you just did pays off, right? If you have a disaster, out-of-date information and plans will make managing and recovering from the disaster MUCH more difficult! Set some time aside, calendar it however you plan future appointments, so that you know you have time to review your BIA/RA/CRA and contact lists.
This is also a great time to see where you can make improvements or direct resources to improve your business overall. Remember, you've already quantified the value of your business processes in the BIA, so with what you know now, see if you have opportunities to improve those processes as you go through them again. It's like a free health check for your business!
It happens every time I first have an introduction with a small business owner. Starting with the basic question of, "What in the world do you do?" By the end of the conversation the response is, "Wow, that's awesome, you must have all kinds of businesses clamoring for your services!"
Remember, if you think Business Continuity would be great for other businesses you know of, it will also be great for your business. Put its powers to work for you. Use the steps we reviewed above to make our business stronger and more resilient for 2021 and beyond. Because your competitors shouldn't be the only ones making their businesses better this year!