"It is better to have a contingency plan and not need it than to need a contingency plan and not have it."
These are words all small businesses should live by.
"Developing a contingency plan allows a leadership team to consider objectively and plan for proactively a variety of unfavorable scenarios versus responding to an emergency from a reactive position in the heat of the moment when emotions often are running high and time is of the essence," says Greg Bustin, CEO of Bustin & Co. "A contingency plan helps a business avoid or mitigate mistakes that occur when the leaders make things up as they go along."
Here are 7 Tips that all businesses should consider when planning a backup strategy.
1: Recognize Something Is Happening: Failure to recognize the scenario you have planned for is one of the biggest mistakes businesses make. "When things start to go south, leaders must act decisively. People crave leadership, and leadership in an emergency or a crisis can make the difference in how quickly a business recovers and resumes normal business operations." —Bustin
2: Strategize: "Sit down with your team (managers or key employees) and brainstorm regarding what is most important in your business. Is it your location, your data, documents, inventory, personnel, or something or someone else? Before you can build a strategy, you must first determine what is the most important." —Tiffany C. Wright, author of "The Funding Is Out There! Access the Cash You Need to Impact Your Business"
3: Create a Risk Management Plan: If something were to happen, what would impact your business the most if lost? "After looking at overall risk, create a risk management plan for your business. Cyber-criminals often target small businesses in order to gain access to the larger firms the company may have a relationship with. Protect your information so that your customers trust you." —Matt Thomas, president of Worksmart Systems, Inc.
4: Set Goals: A strategy is the means and methods you use to achieve your goals. Therefore, without goals, you’re just shooting from the hip based on what you’ve read or heard is important. Set your company’s goals regarding protecting what’s important to you, other owners/investors, and your team.
5: Train Employees: "Holding a training exercise for all workers is crucial as it is a key method of identifying areas of weakness and then making the necessary amendments to the plans so that they become more robust." —Evan Bloom, senior content manager for Eric Mower + Associates.
6: Back Up Everything: Make sure that all your electronic information is backed up on a server, to the cloud, to a portable hard drive, or something similar at least once per week.
"If you do a physical back-up, do not keep the computer and the back-up data in the same place. This way you can retrieve data that is more than a week behind if something goes seriously wrong." —Wright
7: Communicate: People want to know the truth yet they can absorb only so much information. Keep the communication simple, make it frequent and be honest. "Employees will respect an executive’s candor. They may not like what they hear, but the honesty will build trust. During any type of emergency, employees want to know what they can do to help, so one component of your communication plan should make clear ways in which they can help, and ways in which certain actions by employees will interfere with or harm the recovery plans." — Bustinsmall business, data, strategy, leadership