Guest post by Jumpstart Foundry mentor, Robert Preininger, owner of Business Survival Partners.
If a fire wiped out your office tomorrow, how fast could your business be up and running? This is the type of question a sound business continuity plan can help answer. While it may seem like only large companies need a business continuity professional as part of their permanent staff, the fact is that businesses of all sizes are equally vulnerable to interruptions.
Interruptions to normal business operations can take many forms, from criminal acts to changes in company structure to natural disasters. Having a plan in place to meet these challenges gives you an advantage over less prepared competitors, and it also demonstrates to investors that your business can maintain cash flow under less than ideal conditions. Below are a few questions to orient your thinking towards shoring up the resiliency of your business.
Which assets are most critical to the operation of the business?
This includes not only physical assets such as computers, backup servers, and office space, but also personnel assets. If your business revolves around coding, your programming staff is going to be a critical asset to your company’s operations.
What risks threaten these assets?
Risk can take many forms. There are the obvious things that come to mind, like server failure or the floods that devastated Nashville in 2010. However, there may be different threats unique to your business that can be just as harmful. For example, if you do business online, it’s likely that protecting customer payment information is critical to the operation of your business.
How would these threats affect the company if they were to occur?
Knowing the risks is not enough; you must also determine exactly what it would mean for your business if any of those threats came to pass. On the one hand, losing server functionality might not mean much if your data is backed up in cloud storage. Conversely, in the example above, losing customers’ credit card information to hackers might mean losing your existing customer base altogether and exposing you to regulatory fines & penalties.
Of these identified risks, which are high probability and high impact?
Risk is typically defined as having two components: the probability of occurrence, and the impact of its occurrence. An effective business continuity plan takes steps to address both of these riskfactors. High probability events, as you might guess, are ones for which you should definitely prepare your company. High impact events, even if not high probability, also require consideration because of their likelihood to stop your business in its tracks.
Are there strategies that would help me mitigate the effects of these risks?
Once you’ve determined which risks and assets require your attention, focus on identifying ways to lessen your company’s exposure. Doing so not only gives you peace of mind, but also shows current and future investors that your business is on a secure path. Consider building your business continuity plan with a certified expert who can give objective, structured guidance to the above questions. Take the time to build a plan to keep your business moving when the unexpected happens, you’ll be glad you did!
For more information on what to look for in a business continuity plan, visit www.survivalpartners.biz.
Photo by Stuart Pilbrow