Small business ownership is sometimes full of hurdles, high jumps and hazards. That's why business contingency planning is so important; you've got to be prepared for the worst. Part pre-emptive strategy and part disaster recovery plan, a just-in-case business contingency plan is a critical tool for bouncing back from both minor crises and major catastrophes. A business contingency plan can be an independent document or a smaller part of your larger business plan. Either way, the strongest and smartest business contingency plan will prepare you for any number of worst-case scenarios. For starters:
1. A business contingency plan should protect your electronic information from loss, theft or malfunction.
2. Business contingency planning should help your business weather manmade and natural disasters.
3. A business contingency plan should act as insurance in times of financial hardship.
4. Business contingency planning should extend the life your business in the event of illness, accident or death.
Build a business contingency plan for responding to office emergenciesIf your office faces a power outage, flood, fire or other isolated emergency, a business contingency plan can help you recover more completely and more quickly.
Build a disaster recovery plan with which to survive area-wide catastrophesIf your entire town is in crisis due to a tornado, earthquake or other act of God, a business contingency plan can keep you up and running.
Create a business contingency plan that protects your dataIn the event of a technological hiccup, outage or failure, your business contingency plan should ensure that you don't lose your electronic files, records or data.
Strengthen your business contingency plan with economic safetiesNot all disasters are natural ones. Business contingency planning can keep your business safe from economic downturns as well as environmental ones.
Combine business contingency planning and business continuity planningWhere business contingency planning ends, business continuity planning begins.
free resources to help businesses build a business contingency plan, including a standard checklist for business recovery.
- While disaster recovery services are expensive -- business contingency planning consultants can cost between $10,000 and $20,000 -- they are not cost prohibitive; poor planning, however, is, as it can leave your company not only broke, but also broken.
- If you can't afford disaster recovery services, consider developing your own disaster recovery plan and then sharing it with your attorney and your insurance agent for feedback.
- Successful business contingency planning requires a committed contingency planning coordinator; select an employee to do the job and give him or her the appropriate resources to create, maintain and execute your business contingency plan.
- Every business contingency plan should include a communications strategy; in the event of an emergency, be sure you know how you'll communicate with your employees, partners and customers. Keep important contact information in multiple locations for easy and certain access.
- Don't just write your business contingency plan; practice it. Share your plan with employees, engage in regular evacuation drills and revise plans as necessary on an ongoing basis.