At Citywide many of our clients are business owners so we’re familiar with the challenges and benefits of running a business. We’re all familiar with the importance of planning, and who among us has never come home after a long day at the office claiming it was a ‘total disaster’? But hyperbole aside, planning for real disasters – and how you’ll carry on – is essential.
No business is immune and ‘disasters’ can come in many guises, from man-made interruptions like hacking and IT failures, through to illness, injury or natural but unpredictable occurrences like flooding. Research suggests that 80% of businesses suffering a major incident fail within 18 months.1
But before the fear that disaster stalks us at every corner takes hold, there are sensible things you can do to take control and put a plan in place.
1. Expect the unexpected
It may seem flippant – after all, you’ve got a job to do and you can’t think of everything. But it’s true that prevention is better than a cure, so where possible, you should try and anticipate, then legislate for problems that could occur. Think about anti-virus software, SSL encryption and off-site data backups. Beyond IT, think about CCTV, fire and burglar alarms.
2. Evaluate your business
Take a good look at your business to make sure you understand its strengths and vulnerabilities. Draw up a list of things that could go wrong and include everything. Look at the five P’s – premises, people, power, productivity and property – both tangible and intellectual. You may also want to rank them in terms of likelihood, cost and time impacts.
3. Define Plan B
Knowing what could go wrong allows you to figure out how you’d put things right. As always, there are ‘known unknowns’ and worse, ‘unknown unknowns’. You can’t solve everything, but there are some things you can have a practical plan for. Do you have mobile contact details for your staff and can they work remotely? If there’s ever a problem that means you need to close your premises or can’t get in, remote working could be the difference between business as usual or grinding to a halt.
4. Test your arrangements
A good home security question is ‘does your smoke alarm have batteries?’ A more pertinent one is ‘have you tested it recently?’. Apply the same conscience and presence of mind to your disaster recovery plan. There’s no point having a plan in place if you don’t keep yourself and your staff familiar with it and periodically check that it works. Don’t lock it away in a cupboard and forget about it.
5. Cloud It
Research from the Cloud Industry Forum (CIF) shows that cloud adoption in the UK stands at 88% – an increase of 83% since 2010,2 among small businesses in particular. That’s good, but it’s still not 100%, so if you’re storing your livelihood and intellectual property locally, it’s time to think again.
You may have a first aid operative and perhaps a fire and evacuation marshal, but do you have someone in charge of navigating major issues over a longer period? If so, are they sufficiently trained and do you have cover if they’re not around? It’s important for everyone to know and understand what’s expected of them and to be sure those skills are ready at short notice.
7. Get over it and move on
Plan B is essential, but it’s also temporary. A good catch is important, but ultimately you need to get the ball back in play and know what you’ll do to get back to normal ways of working. Look at how long you can get by on emergency measures and how quickly you can return to full operation.
8. Get a second opinion
For two reasons. One, depending on your expertise and that of your staff, you may not have the in-house knowledge to come up with a comprehensive plan. Two, even if you don’t think so, you may be avoiding the issue just a little and it’s not something to be done half-heartedly. Whether an honest third-party opinion serves to open your eyes or confirms you’re heading in the right direction, either way it’s worth asking.
If you need any help with Financial & business planning just give us a call on 01372 365950. We know that choosing the right professional financial adviser can be difficult. If you’d like to find out more about Citywide Financial Partners, book an appointment and we’ll travel to meet you – wherever and whenever suits you. We’ll explore your goals and aspirations and discuss building a strategy to get you where you want to be – all at no obligation to you.