« Continuity of Operations Planning

Top 5 steps in continuity of operations planning for small businesses

Small business continuity can be trickier than that for larger enterprises.
Small business continuity can be trickier than that for larger enterprises.

Small businesses always have a tougher time of continuity of operations planning. A smaller workforce, less resources and a weaker budget often puts these firms behind the larger enterprises, but by following these five steps, smaller firms can focus their business continuity efforts for maximum potential.

According to My Central Jersey, 25 percent of small to mid​-sized businesses that close due to natural disasters never reopen, highlighting the vital importance of a successful continuity strategy. The question that SMB owners need to ask themselves is, honestly, could they bounce back from a natural or manmade disaster that forced them to close their doors for an extended period of time?

Follow this checklist to ensure your business continuity plan is up to the task:

Consider real risks – What risks is your company actually facing on a regular basis. Be it weather or supply chain interruptions, determine what crises pose the most threat to operations and can you recover from them? Taking disasters into consideration that your company will never face is wasting time and resources. Focus on real threats that can actually interrupt workflow.

Prioritize – The next step in building a successful business continuity strategy is to prioritize systems and departments. In most cases, personnel will be the No. 1 priority during recovery – making sure employees are safe and able to return to work. This is followed by assessing data, finances, customer relations and technology platforms, in which ever order a business feels is most important.

Assess the damage – Thirdly, a business has to assess its systems to see what needs to be repaired or replaced. Walking through a crisis with every computer system unscathed is highly unlikely, and firms may need to perform a system rollback, data recovery or other emergency procedure to get everything running smoothly again.

Train the plan – Ensure that employees are aware of the business continuity plan and will be able to start it seamlessly when a crisis strikes. This will reduce downtime and ensure that a business is able to work as a cohesive unit in the event a disaster, natural or otherwise.

Start now – Perhaps the most important step for a small business looking to improve its continuity of operations plan is to put it into place as soon as possible. Any delays create risks, and firms can't afford to stumble when it comes to disaster recovery.

The right strategy is critical in a moment of crisis. Companies can hire business continuity consultants to help them ensure their plan is right for their needs and scalable to evolving business demands.