Tossing the triage mentality
Disaster recovery planning. Business continuity planning. Succession planning. Are these phrases you're familiar with as a business owner? If not, it's time to get cozy with these concepts.
Running a business is hard work. At Better Business Bureau Northwest + Pacific, we know how many pieces make up the overall picture of running an organization: from sales and marketing to hiring
and onboarding, and of course, budgeting and financial management. However, when things are going swimmingly, it's also important to consider the "what-if" factors.
This requires a new set of plans that take into account what you, the business owner, would do if your systems went down or you couldn't access critical customer information. What about if there were a natural disaster or fire in your building, would your records be safe? Where else are they stored? And, don't forget about planning ahead for the longevity of your business — maybe your company never faces any of these external hurdles, but one it will surely face is being turned over to someone else. Whom will that be?
All of these are operational considerations — and the stronger operational planning you do, the more efficient your business becomes.
For many small business owners, it is common to adopt a reactive, triage mentality. When something goes wrong, the goal is staying in business somehow, someway, by relying on outside parties and vendors. Perhaps even depending on employees to execute an emergency plan, which requires significant training beforehand.
Shifting this mentality is critical. By adopting a preventative strategy, you build up business resiliency. This is done by outlining a large number of possible scenarios to be prepared for any type of outage. Consider these tips:
The key is that we now live in a digital era, so business continuity planning is no longer about protecting physical books and records or the ability to operate a physical infrastructure remotely. Instead, begin to think of business continuity planning through the lens of technology; where is your company and customer information stored, how well is it protected and how will you get to it in the event of an emergency? Answering these questions provides the first part of a broader framework that BBB believes all small business owners need to have in place.
Beyond this, planning involves people-perspective. It's important to look at who you're training, who understands your business infrastructure and who the key decision-makers are. Here are a few best practices:
As your business grows larger, encompassing more customers and their personal information, your tolerance for disruption becomes smaller.
Danielle Kane is the Portland Marketplace Manager for Better Business Bureau Northwest + Pacific. She can be reached at: 503-833-2301
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