For most small businesses, it is just standard for them to have a business plan. Some do not even write their business plan until a need for it arises after the business has kicked off. The point is, whether you like it or not, you cannot separate your business from its roadmap. If you do not have one yet, you will need it, and you will get it.
Maybe you do not, but it is pretty clear progress will be 10x harder for your business. Hold up! That is not a curse. It is the reality of a lack of definition for your business, its operations, and its goals. It becomes much more troublesome when you have a staff body.
However, another important roadmap that is seldom talked about is a Business Continuity Plan. And yes, it's very different from a business plan. While it might draw from the business plan, it is not part of the business plan. It is a plan of its own.
A business Continuity plan, otherwise known as BCP, is a system set up to ensure prevention, response, and recovery in case of disasters. The BPC ensures that risks and disasters that can be avoided are avoided in time. And that the ones that cannot be avoided are well prepared for.
It is not about being growth-minded. It is about having foresight. In the course of running a business, situations will arise that will threaten operations, revenue, and continuance. Fire incidents, Natural disasters, cyber-attacks all are realities of business. And can cripple a business when there is no backup.
However, a BCP is more than a backup. It is a system that ensures that operations can continue and swiftly return to normal in the event of a disaster. It also ensures losses are minimised, and the customer base is protected. Insurance only covers damage cost, it does not prevent initial or further damage. There is also no cover for the client base and company's reputation. While insurance can be part of a BCP, it is not an alternative to it.
Nigeria is not prone to natural disasters, but the fire service is not prone to responding when you call too. Regardless of the location and size of the business, a Business continuity plan is necessary. No company is free of threats or any region of potential disasters - natural and non-natural.
Elements of a Business continuity plan
Three keywords define the purpose of a Business continuity plan - Prevention, Response and Recovery. These keywords are the stages of the relevance of a Business plan. As such, a business plan is to have strategies for each stage. A business continuity plan consists of three major division
- Prevention strategies
- Response strategies
- Recovery strategies
Often, these strategies overlap and can be relevant all through each stage. But each stage must be correctly defined so that everyone involved knows what role to play at what time. A good way to ensure this to have drills for staff members to familiarise themselves with their roles and responses.
Developing a Business Continuity Plan
The process of developing a Business continuity plan is continuous. As technology advances and the business grows, new threats emerge, and better methods of addressing threats and disasters emerge too. However, steps involved in the development and subsequent reviews remain the same. They include:
Setting up a team: this team will not only work on developing the BCP. But also conduct a review from time to time. They will organise training and drills, and implement strategies when the need arises.
Identifying and analysing potential risks: this is known as Business Impact Analysis (BIA). At this stage, your team researches all operational, financial, and physical hazards to your company. It has to be thorough, leaving nothing out.
Set up policies and structures: these policies and structures have to take into consideration the uniqueness of the business and its location. They must be realistic, preventive, and relevant.
Channelling Resources: channel needed human and material resources into preventing and preparing.
Implementation and tests: preventive measures should be implemented immediately and upgraded periodically. Also, tests should be conducted regularly to ascertain the effectiveness and relevance of the policies and structures in place.
The business continuity plan is best developed when the business kicks off. If you don't have a business plan yet, then do that first. You can hire a consultant to help with developing a Business continuity plan. But you have to work closely with this consultant because it is your business. It is about what you want to build, and no one will understand that like you. A better option is to work with a team in-house to map out a Business continuity plan. Don't just give it a thought, do it.