Resilience or lack of it was a defining theme over the past year.
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Naturally, in the midst of economic turmoil and a public health crisis, businesses split into two lines: the prepared and the unprepared. Even then, most of them didn't get away without bruising.
That division also seemed to fall in another direction: the size of the company. While most businesses have been affected by the pandemic, small businesses have undoubtedly been hardest hit. In a 2020 PNAS survey, 43% of small business respondents had temporarily closed, mostly due to Covid-19.
In part, this warped battle is down to cash flow and resources. The PNAS survey showed that most respondents only had enough cash for two months or less. On the other side of the coin, businesses have the advantage of typically having deeper pockets. According to a report by the Small Business Administration that analyzed the 2008 recession, larger companies recovered to their pre-crisis contribution to GDP in an average of four years, while smaller companies took an average of six.
However, resilience is not determined by cash flow alone. Large organizations have another benefit – business continuity planning and disaster recovery. These practices are on the table for large corporations, but are often viewed as too corporate or excessive for smaller businesses. Why are resilience processes dependent on size? Aren't we living in the world of scalability? Small businesses can – and deserve – think big without overwhelming their resources.
Related: How To Use Email To Market Your Small Business
Why business continuity can't be exclusive to the company
Business continuity planning helps make operations as resilient as possible. Here are two important definitions that you should know:
Business continuity planning is the process of identifying potential threats to a company and creating logs to deal with so the business can move forward. Disaster recovery is a set of tools and procedures that restore critical information, processes, and systems in a company after a disaster.
Sure, this protocol and tools might look different for a company (e.g., an entire team and tech stack devoted to the problem), but that doesn't mean companies can't apply the same best practices on a smaller scale . With the right plan, they can get the same benefits as larger companies.
Here are just a few of the benefits:
Limit interruptions. It is not necessary to treat each crisis as an event in its own right. With a business continuity plan, small businesses can standardize their response to disruptions to minimize downtime. The less downtime, the less money is lost. Determine alternatives. There should always be a plan B in place when a small business needs to close its doors, reduce working hours, or curtail its capacity. For example, if a salon is closed for a month due to Covid-19, it should have the opportunity to use telecommunications, keep in touch with its customers and give customers the opportunity to book future appointments. That way, once the business reopens, sales are ready for a quick restart. Empower the people. Business continuity planning ensures that every employee is on the same page when dealing with a crisis. With a set protocol, employees know how to continue their work to ensure consistency and reassurance.
The first step in planning business continuity is to identify internal challenges. Does your current infrastructure help or hinder your resilience, for example? While there are several factors that can contribute to a crisis, such as: B. economic volatility, employee safety and / or government recommendations. However, a company's processes shouldn't be one of them.
Even so, many organizations continue to rely on outdated tools and systems that make crises worse. For example, some companies have not been able to move to a remote, socially distant world. To create a foundation for business continuity, companies must prioritize digitizing their processes and systems.
Similar: 5 Ways To Help Your Small Business Survive During The Pandemic
Digitize before the next disaster
During the early pandemic-related shutdowns, many small businesses found that their pen-and-paper systems made it difficult to respond quickly to changes that were needed. The purely analog corporate management brings with it several problems. Information stored in only one location can only be physically accessed from that location – if it's lost or destroyed, it's gone forever. It is also difficult to extract insights into reporting, payroll, and the customer database from this data.
By modernizing the pure paper methods with digital solutions, companies can eliminate internal bottlenecks and access important information anytime, anywhere. Customers can make appointments and communicate with them even when the doors are closed, and employees benefit, for example, by being able to see their schedules and stay up to date.
Digitization does not have to be an enterprise-class investment either. By implementing all-in-one solutions like business management software, small businesses can easily digitize their operations. The right software can make business continuity planning easy and affordable, and the best time to start planning is now.
Small businesses need to be prepared for the next disaster, be it a natural disaster, a break-in or a data breach. By modernizing and digitizing operations, small businesses can benefit from the digital revolution without breaking the bank.
Related: Are you a Small Business Owner or Entrepreneur?