Create a Small Business Continuity Plan

A small business continuity plan, or BCP, identifies and establishes a plan of action in the event of a company’s exposure to internal and external threats, such as disaster recovery and data security. Detailing a specific continuity plan of action aids organization recovery, while also helps to maintain a competitive advantage during the disaster or emergency situation. A BCP helps to ensure that existing and prospective customers won’t flee to a competitor because your business had to discontinue operations as a result of an emergency situation.

Keep this in mind when devising your BCP: a BCP is designed to detail how your small business can continue to operate while recovering from the disruptive event.

Here are a few quick tips to help you establish a framework for your small business continuity plan:

1. Identify key internal personnel, including backups.
2. Establish means for key personnel to telecommute.
3. Document key external vendors, contractors, clients and customers.
4. Arrange alternatives for critical materials and resources.
5. Determine critical equipment and develop contingency equipment options.
6. Identify critical documents and create off-site backups.
7. Create alternative power and communication sources, such as satellite, in cases of a power outage.
8. Designate a contingency work operations site.
9. Create a step-by-step “how to” plan which includes a list of responsibilities and responsible parties.
10. Distribute the complete BCP document to all employees.
11. Provide mandatory training on your BCP.
12. Test the plan.

Once you have constructed your small business continuity plan, it shouldn’t just be left sitting in a binder on a shelf. An untested BCP is a waste of time, company resources, and money. Further, your BCP is likely not going to be perfect initially. Develop the mindset that your BCP is a dynamic document, requiring continuous improvement. Over time, vendors, clients, contractors, employees, process, and procedures all will change, mandating adjustments in your BCP.