The last few years have seen several events such as Brexit and more recently the Coronavirus that have a large effect on businesses and trade. Small businesses are often harder hit as they don’t have the resources to weather the storm. So how can you as a small business owner prepare yourself for the unexpected?
1. Brainstorm Potential Scenarios
First of all, think about all the possible issues that might arise when running your business from the small situations such as a delay in delivery of your materials order to larger ones such as a pandemic in the general population.
2. Consider your Response
Then think about what you could do in each of these situations. How will you respond? Is there anything you can do instead?
For example, if your new yarn line is delayed from the mill, do you need to re-think your social media strategy. Do you have enough stock of existing yarn you can dye in the meantime that you can promote instead?
If you become ill, can you still fulfil orders? Do you have an online option that customers can use instead of visiting a physical store, could they buy digital downloads instead, e.g. a gift card for future use?
3. Create an Action Plan
Using your potential scenarios and responses, create an action plan for what you need to do to be able to successfully respond to each situation should it arise.
For example, if you always ensure you have some inventory available to use, then you are able to continue to operate should a delivery be delayed.
If you need to self-isolate, having automated pre-prepared social media buffer will allow you to continue to interact with your community with minimal effort. This is useful when your brain is fogged up with a cold as it continues to post for you without you having to think or worry about it.
4. Write all your ideas and plans down
Write everything you’ve thought about into a logical document and voila, you have a policy that you can refer to when you need it and give to employees for information and guidance.
If you have employees, why not get them involved in coming up with scenarios and solutions. If they are involved, they will have a sense of ownership over the policy and they will feel valued by the business. They are also likely to act more favourably to help a business cope if a situation should arise.
5. Build a Contingency Fund
With every sale you make, save a small percentage of it and put it into a contingency fund, either a separate bank account or if your bank provides the service, a separate pot.
This fund will be useful in covering sick pay when you or your employees are ill or to cover bills during slow periods of trade, knowing your business’ high and low trade seasons will help you plan for this. You can plan for this when you think about your annual budget.
6. Keep up to Date with Events
Once you’ve written your contingency plan, make sure you keep up to date with events, whether they are particular to your business, such as keeping in touch with the mill to ensure deliveries are regular and on time or reading the news to stay informed about larger events such as Brexit or the Coronavirus.
Staying informed will help give you time to act accordingly to each unexpected situation and this will save you both time and money in the long run.
7. Review your Plan
It’s important to review your plan regularly to consider if anything has changed. Are there new situations you hadn’t previously thought about? Has your business changed in size or shape recently? Are you in a position to put more aside for your contingency fund?
What else can you do?
For further ideas, why not look at my Pinterest Board for Continuity Planning.