Continuity planning is the process of creating a system that will allow you to continue your business operations in the event of any disruption, including an emergency or disaster. The goal of continuity planning is to ensure that your company can operate as usual, even if key employees are unavailable for an extended period.
It goes without saying, but it’s important to think about the future of your business and how you can make it more secure. It can be difficult to pinpoint what exact events can happen, but having a robust plan to cover multiple contingencies can make all the difference.
I want my clients to have the ability to withstand any issues that could arise. If a business owner keeps the details of their operation inside their head or a single person is responsible for key functions, a significant disruption can have disastrous effects on their enterprise as whole.
For example, let’s say that as the business owner, you are responsible for signing and issuing paychecks yourself — something that is not uncommon, even in successful companies — and you are unavailable due to illness or an accident. The result is that payroll ends up being delayed. That’s something no employee wants, even if it’s just a matter of a couple of days.
This is why I recommend that business owners take the time to ensure any procedures are well-documented and that there is a secure continuity plan in place.
There are certain core elements that you need to have ready to build out a continuity plan.
One commonly missed benefit of having a strong continuity plan is that it helps to increase the value of your business over time. A well-structured business with well-defined roles and rules that everyone understands is a more marketable business, whether you are planning to sell it in the future or want to grow it into a legacy enterprise.
A business with a well-defined succession and continuity plan is more attractive to a potential buyer. Building an empowered management team will show the potential buyer that the business can continue to succeed after you have left.
Additionally, you’ll mitigate the risks and financial exposure that frequently come with a disruption and build trust among your customers and other businesses.
I suggest reviewing your continuity plan with your employees on an annual or semi-annual basis to eliminate confusion within the workplace. Change is a force that every business must be prepared for. Having that addressed on a regular basis is important.
Drills can also come in handy. It can be as simple as telling your employees that they have to work from home one week in order to stress-test your remote operations. This can help you find flaws, either technical or human. Are your employees more distracted when they’re at home? Is there less work getting done? Are meetings more difficult to organize and manage?
Utilizing these continuity drills is a great way to see what potential hurdles exist and how you can overcome them.
It can be difficult to create a business plan alone. You might miss some details that are crucial to your plan. Thankfully, there are sites like ready.gov. This Homeland Security disaster preparedness site is filled with useful tips and tricks to help you start continuity planning on your own.
Another thing that I suggest to my clients is to reach out to other successful business owners and find out what they’ve done. Someone in a similar field as you may have insights that you can use to develop your own continuity plan.
Finally, you may already have someone who can assist with your continuity planning needs: your certified financial planner. We can get you in touch with experts in business planning who have helped people like yourself build a robust, flexible continuity plan that can help your business thrive.
When the time comes for you to exit the business that you’ve spent years building, having a well designed continuity/succession plan in place will make that transition more efficient, and hopefully more profitable to you and your family.
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