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Business continuity tips for SMEs

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Planning and preparing your business for any disruption is essential. If you haven’t thought about business continuity planning before, now is the time to do so.

It has been reported that 80% of businesses that have been affected by a major incident close within 18 months*.  How quickly could your business recover from a cyber attack or your premises flooding? What happens when a flu outbreak affects your staff?

What disrupts business?

Business continuity determines how quickly a business can respond and adapt to all types of risk and disruption that it could face whilst maintaining continuous business operations, safe guarding people and maintaining its reputation. Disruptions that can affect the continuity of business include:

  • Heatwaves, drought
  • Flooding, storms and gales
  • Travel disruption
  • Terrorist attacks
  • Fire
  • Industrial incidents
  • Industrial strikes
  • Loss of essential services
  • Cyber attacks
  • Power outages
  • Cold weather and snow
  • Animal diseases
  • Pandemic flu outbreaks

A report in 2017 found that 43% of SMEs had no business continuity, crisis management or disaster recovery plans in place (Source: Understand Security Risks report, 2017 by Arthur J. Gallagher). Business continuity check list

Start your plan

As a business owner, one of the first steps you could take to start increasing your resilience is to identify some of the emergencies or threats that your business may be vulnerable to and to what extent that they could affect your business. Once they have been identified, it is very important to be prepared and to start making a plan, which should be kept up to date so it can be used effectively when an emergency occurs.

A plan ensures that all the necessary information and resources are together in one location so that the necessary actions and assistance can be taken when required. To improve your business resilience, it is important to:

  • Stay informed and up-to-date with the emergency situation, via news broadcasts on local or national news channels, radio stations or via social media. The regular updates may determine the correct and safest actions to take to allow for continuity.
  • Identify members of staff with particular skills which may be useful in an emergency, such as first aid training.
  • Identify members of staff who may be vulnerable in an emergency and may require extra assistance.
  • Ensure that all employees are aware of the emergency plan and carryout practice drills to test the plan. Employees should know how to activate the plan and what is expected of them in an emergency.
  • Undergo regular evacuation and security training and checks.
  • Consider whether there is the option of working from an alternative premises located out of the area at risk.
  • Ensure all data and files are protected, backed up, stored properly and kept up-to-date.
  • Create an up-to-date list of important contacts such as the insurance company, key customers and suppliers and staff members along with their emergency contact details.
  • Consider whether you will need back up utilities.
  • Create a list of alternative suppliers in case the emergency is affecting the supplier and ensure that any suppliers you work with have their own emergency plans in place so that the continuity of your business isn’t affected as well due to them.

Further information on developing your business continuity plan and preparing for a potential emergency or disruption can be found at The Lancashire Resilience Forum's website www.stayintheknow.co.uk/Emergencyinfo

You can download a 'ten minute emergency plan' document – a step-by-step guide to develop an emergency plan. An example of an emergency checklist is also provided.   You can also download the Business Continuity resource produced by The Flood Hub which outlines the importance of business resilience planning. *Statistic from Cheshire East Council  

This article was written by Newground.

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