A small business is something of a microcosm of the standards set by large corporations. Where they would have a finance department, most of your finances can be run by a single CFO. Where a big corporation might have a small army of inventory staff and equipment, most small businesses do just fine with a few team members and a back room or two full of shelves. However, in some ways large and small businesses have exactly the same needs. You both need a website, a mobile platform, marketing, customer service, and most of all, you both lose money when the doors close.
Downtime is one of the major enemies of any business and it can be caused by anything from internet interruption to world-class storms resulting anywhere from hours to indefinite delay. Normally, downtime is measured in the dollars you lose when not open for business which would make business continuity plans seem a lot more important for big business. But can your small business really afford a week-long power outage? Would your business be guaranteed to survive if you lost access to your current building? Business continuity plans aren't just for big businesses, your small business might need one even more.
What is a Business Continuity Plan?
When a disaster strikes and something happens to your office, network, data, or other essential pieces of infrastructure required for running your business, there are two forms of response. Disaster recovery and business continuity. Disaster recovery is the process of putting your business back together, rebuilding it from save states and surviving infrastructure to recover what was lost or damaged. Most people have heard at least a little bit about disaster recovery. Business continuity, on the other hand, involves making sure that you can keep working no matter what happens to any particular aspect of your company infrastructure.
Small Business Income and Overhead
When you're running a small business, every drop of income counts. Many small businesses are carefully balanced between income and overhead with a slim margin of profit each year and even those that are gaining forward momentum usually invest the majority of profits into growth and quality improvement. In other words, small businesses can't afford to close their doors for too long. One or two snow days a year is survivable but what if something keeps your office offline or stops your supply source for a week or more? The entire year's finances are thrown completely out of alignment and whenever you do get back to work, it will be a scramble to ensure the year isn't a loss.
Business Continuity Planning
Continuity planning prevents that downtime by predicting its possibility and building a plan to keep working under any circumstances. The best plans have several contingencies where something could go wrong or in an unexpected way. You will also want to devise several plans for different possible disaster and interruption types. One great example is if your internet provider for some reason becomes unavailable. You can have a backup provider ready to step in on short notice or even a high-powered hotspot that can serve wifi internet to the office even if a physical cable was cut somewhere in your neighborhood.
The good news is that, as a small business, your continuity plans can be much simpler than those needed by large corporations. If you only have one or two locations, only a small number of staff need to be accounted for and only one or two buildings considered for disaster possibilities.
Upgrading your recovery plan to one of continuity is a great way to minimize downtime from disasters and prevent problems in the future by building solutions ahead of time. Stay tuned for the second half of this two-part series where we explore how to build a continuity plan for your small business one potential disaster at a time. See you there!
For more information about network security, disaster recovery, and business continuity planning, contact us today!