Steps in a Small Business Continuity Plan

Safety, security, and protection are important aspects of running a successful business. Therefore, it’s important to include the right amount of preparation to ensure your business is adequately protected. While you may feel you have took the necessary steps to ensure this is true, do you know what your employees will do in the case of a natural disaster or other foreseen event? If not, it’s a great time to create a detailed continuity plan that will list each and every step of the process should something like this occur.

Your small business continuity plan consists of a number of steps, including preparations you can make now before a disaster or accident occurs, as well as a list of things to do during or after the event occurs.

1) Evaluate the Risks

Before creating your small business continuity plan, you should be aware of the potential risks your business may face and the disasters that are more common in your geographical area. For instance, if you operate a business in Southern California, you may be at a higher risk of an earthquake, while in Oklahoma, you may be more worried about a tornado. By understanding what probable disasters may occur according to the type of business you have and where it’s located, you can better prepare for potential disasters.

2) Create an Emergency Evacuation Plan

Detailing the emergency evacuation plan is one of the most important aspects of the continuity plan, as it offers guidance to employees about what to do in the case of a disaster or unanticipated event.  For starters, be sure your company has an emergency first aid kit with everything a small business will need, such as bottled water, packaged food, and first aid supplies like pain medications, bandages, and other items. You should also create an evacuation plan and inform your employees; include specifics such as who they should report to and where the emergency exits in your building are. Choose a safe location outdoors for all of your employees to meet in the case of a fire or disaster and be sure all of your employees know of this location as well as the safest way to exit the building. Additionally, designate a company executive who will communicate with the public  through announcements or a press release as to what has occurred.

3) Protect your Company Data

Protecting your company data is crucial when the building you reside in has been caught up in a fire, natural disaster, or accident of some kind. Be sure to prepare for this by delegating data protection and organization to a trusted employee who has experience with backing up data and being sure it is not only protected but easily accessible if something should happen.

4) Obtain Proper Insurance

Protecting your company’s financial assets, merchandise, and dwelling is an important part of your small business continuity plan. Obtain proper insurance, such as commercial property insurance, and other types of liability insurance to protect your company and assets in the case of a fire, accident, or natural disaster. Small business insurance will offer financial protection and may provide the ability to continue conducting business even if you need to re-locate while remodels or repairs are being done on your building.

5) Create a Post-Disaster Business Plan

Create a detailed business plan to be followed after the accident or disaster occurs that allows you to pick up on your normal business operations as soon as possible. This may include relocating to another office temporarily or permanently, having designated personnel reach protected business data, hiring temporary employees to pick up the slack until business gets back to the normal pace, and an arrangement to rent equipment or supplies if yours has been damaged.

6) Seek Community Resources

Seek advice from your community before finishing your continuity plan as there may be local resources, like contingency planning workshops, information on putting together a first aid kit, and classes that your employees can take to help them stay calm during a highly stressful situation.
7) Announce and Post the Finished Plan

Once your continuity plan is finished, be sure you announce its completion to each and every employee, post it publicly where it can be seen often, and remind your employees on a regular basis about its existence. It also helps to run practice fire drills in your building to be sure employees understand what to do in an emergency, who to report to, how to get out of the building safely, and where to meet once you are safely outside.

The continuity plan is a vital resource in the case of an emergency or disaster that you can’t possibly have expected. However, just because these events are often unanticipated, it does not mean you can’t make preparations ahead of time for the best possible change of maintaining business operations after the disaster and keeping your employees safe. Use diligence when creating the continuity plan and involve your employees in the process for a well-rounded plan. The important thing is to be as detailed as possible and be sure all of your employees understand it.