Why You Need a Business Continuity Plan

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During the recent Oscars coverage we noticed that Brad Pitt’s production company, behind the award-winning 12 Years a Slave, is called Plan B. Which got us thinking – what’s your plan B? Hopefully you’re reading this having made a great start to 2014 and confident that business is going well. But it’s always worth having a backup – or a business continuity plan – just in case.

Why have a business continuity plan?
A business continuity plan is essential in case something goes wrong. This could be in the form of a natural disaster such as flooding, or something unexpected like a fire, a break-in or vandalism at your business premises. According to the Forum of Private Business, a fifth of companies suffer an emergency every five years and, unfortunately, a staggering nine out of ten companies hit by fire or flood never recover. But being prepared can help you get back to business as usual and mitigate the damage.

How to create a business continuity plan
It’s very straightforward and simply takes a bit of time rather than in-depth skill or knowledge. Think about the aspects of your business that you just can’t afford to lose. How would your IT system cope if hit by a virus or hacked into? How badly would business be affected by a staff crisis, such as an outbreak of illness or industrial action? What if you lost stock or your premises became unusable for a time?

Write down the essential aspects that your business couldn’t operate without and think about the consequences if they were to stop working for a while, such as customers going to a competitor. Once you start making notes, you will be surprised at how clear your plan becomes.

What should my business continuity plan include?
The plan should include a list of actions that you and your staff need to take in case of or during an emergency. It could include:

  • Backing up all important documents, files and contacts with a secure system
  • Having an effective fire drill and nominating a member of staff to take a roll call at the assembly point
  • Planning how you will contact customers and what your message will be
  • Having a financial contingency in place whilst waiting for your business to start operating again or for insurance money to come through
  • Nominating a member of staff to speak to the media if necessary
  • Drawing up a list of other organisations you’ll have to notify, such as insurers, utilities companies and suppliers

Hopefully, the worst will never happen to your business but, if it does, an effective continuity plan should help ensure your business survives – and eventually thrives again!

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