The “Cobbler’s Children Syndrome” is an allegory that is often used in business to describe a company that slacks on their own planning. Just like the children of the shoemaker who go barefoot, we have consulted with numerous financial planning and wealth management firms that fail to prepare for the unexpected. Specifically, firms that overlook business continuity and redundancy planning.
That brings us to the question: Do you have a business continuity plan?
Business continuity plans can be simple to develop and implement. They enable small businesses to continue in the event of an untimely departure of a key employee or business interruption. A good continuity plan avoids central points of failure, ensures that the business can continue to conduct transactions if any one part fails, and allows succession planning in case it is needed.
A business continuity plan should include procedures for:
1. A key employee’s departure. Your most important employees often hold the most critical knowledge. What will you do if they leave suddenly?
2. Business interruption. How will you continue to operate if your business is interrupted by a natural disaster, power outages, ransomware, server failures, website outages, or other issues?
3. Data loss. Disasters can cause data loss and even complete system failures. Ensure you are routinely backing up offsite in more than one location.
4. Succession planning is critical for small businesses. What will happen to your company if you are unable to continue to operate in your role?
5. It is important to remember that a continuity plan is not a one-time event. It must be reviewed and updated regularly to ensure that it still meets the needs of the business.
6. Safe locations for customer meetings during emergencies.
7. Alternative means of communication in an emergency, etc.
When creating a continuity plan, it is important to tailor it to the specific needs of your business. To summarize, the following are a few tips if you are looking to create or improve your continuity plans:
1. Make a list of all possible disruptions that could occur and how you would address them. This might include things like natural disasters, power outages, loss of internet service, or the sudden departure of a key employee.
2. Have a backup plan for every aspect of your business. This includes things like having an alternate site for conducting business, having redundant systems in place, documenting procedures and projects, and ensuring that you have access to your data no matter what happens.
3. Implement job shadowing. This is a process in which employees get experience working in other departments so that they can step into another role, if necessary.
4. In addition to reviewing your business continuity plan regularly, it is important to test it from time to time. If you have an alternate site for conducting business, try using it at least once a year. If you have a disaster recovery plan, test it at least twice a year.
5. Keep your continuity plan up-to-date and communicate your plan to employees. As your business changes, so too should your continuity plan.
A well-developed business continuity plan, as well as a written succession plan can be the difference between a small business that survives and one that fails. Even if you are a sole proprietor, spend some time creating or improving your continuity plan today to ensure that your business can continue in the event of an emergency.
Contact us or schedule a free consultation for more information on best practices related to business continuity planning, and receive a free review of your existing plan.