When running a small business, it’s to be expected that business won’t be smooth sailing all the time. For example, who could have ever predicted the COVID-19 global pandemic and its impact on sustaining your business?
While you can’t prepare for every possible scenario, these five tips will help you maintain business continuity during unexpected or challenging situations.
Have a communication process for employees and clients
Communication is the key to success, and even more so in uncertain times. It doesn’t need to be complicated – simply having a plan in place for communicating updates to both employees and customers is the first step. Employee communications might come in the form of emails or group text messages.
Depending on the scope of your business, you might require a separate plan for contacting customers or clients. Consider phone, email and social media to update customers on temporary closures, shipping delays, changes in hours or other important information.
Using the COVID-19 pandemic as an example, employers had to stay in touch frequently with employees as federal and state rules and regulations were always changing. Business owners needed to update customers about social distancing precautions, whether or not the business was open, and specific reopening guidelines.
To learn more about how to create a long-term crisis communication strategy, check out this post.
Check that you have the right insurance
Ensure that you have -- and understand -- the small business insurance necessary to protect you in case of a natural disaster, theft or other unexpected crisis. For business owners in high-risk areas, such as hurricane-prone parts of Florida, it’s important to understand what type of additional coverage you’ll need to protect your business.
If you have ample warning time and can safely do so take photos or videos of your business before a natural disaster strikes. In the event your business suffers any damage, you’ll have proper documentation before filing a claim. For major weather events, be sure to contact FEMA as they often can provide financial assistance to small businesses.
Back up important documents
Backing up documents on a regular basis should already be part of your established workflow. But, if you don’t already have a system in place, consider this your friendly reminder to ensure that essential documents are backed up regularly – and especially when there is an impending natural disaster.
This process includes gathering and saving information about yourself, employees, and customers. You will want to safeguard and have redundancies for important tax information, account and password information and critical financial documents.
Have an emergency kit ready
In the event that you are stuck at your business when a storm hits, you'll want to be prepared to shelter in place. Start with a supply of flashlights, backup batteries, candles, blankets, bottled water, non-perishable goods and a first aid kit.
The U.S. Small Business Administration has also put together a variety of guides, checklists, and safety tips for an array of emergencies ranging from hurricanes to winter storms, which you can access here. They have also included information for how to access financial assistance after a disaster.
Invest in Internet backup
If you work in an office, your computer is most likely connected to a server and to the Internet. Internet failover is the term that describes the process of automatically switching to a backup when your primary system goes down.
With Internet connections through two different providers, an issue with your primary connection won’t impact your ability to stay online and keep your business running. Because Internet downtime is business downtime, contingency planning for outages makes good business sense. Check out this post to learn which Internet backup solutions would be best for your small business.
Whether a natural disaster, global pandemic or some other unexpected challenge, don’t leave anything to chance when it comes to protecting your business.