When Business Owner Brad moved out of the city, he envisaged a quieter, stress-free existence, away from all the worries and the smog. So, when December 2019 rolled around, and he started seeing reports on the news about bushfires in the region, it knocked him for six. Office Manager Maggie lived out of town a way – if she couldn’t make it to work because of the fires, he didn’t know what he would do. The office relied on her to keep running.
He made his Weetbix and Nescafe with his eyes glued to the TV. His heart sunk further when he heard the news announcer say, “breaking news – emergency services have announced that they are evacuating the town centre.”
It was worse than he thought; what if something happened to their appointment book? The filing cabinet with all the company information? The computer holding their financial records? They didn’t have a back-up or copy of any of their customer contact information. Their whole year’s work, and the future of the business, could be down the toilet.
Wattle Business Services may be an imaginary business, but this worst-case scenario was one that thousands of small businesses faced at the end of 2019. If your organisation doesn’t have a business continuity plan to help you plan for emergencies, you expose yourself to huge risks.
But never fear! We are here to help you build a robust business continuity plan so you don’t end up in a situation like Business Owner Brad.
Step 1 – Know your Risks
If you are a city slicker, you might not be familiar with some of the local risks in the Australian outback. So, whether you are a local or a newcomer, the first step is to map out the risks that your company could face. These may be natural disasters, such as:
Or they might be related to human or infrastructure challenges:
Infrastructure failure (EFTPOS, NBN or phone lines, for example)
The NSW government has put together a handy template to help you identify the major risks that your company faces and rate their likelihood and impact on business earnings.
Step 2 – Have a Plan
Once you have mapped out your primary risks, it is time to start coming up with a plan that will make your business more resilient and emergency ready.
If Brad’s business scenario rang true for you, this plan needs to focus heavily on and backing up your business records, customer contact information and financial information. From an IT perspective, you need to be confident that your data will prevail, no matter what happens. Do you how you will access your vital business information if you can’t access your physical workspace? And if you do have a back-up, is it secure? As the recent Microsoft Exchange Server attack demonstrated, even the big guys are vulnerable to malicious activity.
As IT Guy Isaac knows, a resilient IT system needs:
A regular data back-up plan
Well serviced and maintained equipment
Remote access in case of emergency
The tricky part about navigating major changes in a small business is ensuring that everyone is comfortable with the path forward. Financial Controller Frank might not be on board with investing in new infrastructure, but a lack of foresight could be incredibly costly for the business. Wattle Business Service’s Business Continuity Plan (and your own) needs to be planned out with full staff involvement so that they are part of the process and understand the serious risks involved.
Step 3 – Get Your Business Ready
Unfortunately, continuity planning isn’t a one-off task. To keep your business running like a well-oiled machine, you need to oil it. Clients often ask us how often they need to back-up data or service their computers. Obviously, it varies depending on your business, but to give you a general guide, we recommend that you:
Book in an annual computer service
Make sure your business data is backed up every 24-hours or more regularly, depending on the business value of the data
Have an off-site back-up of your data (whether this is off-premise or in the cloud)
We also recommend investing in a Cloud Disaster Recovery solution that uses the cloud to deliver enterprise-ready recovery at an affordable price.
Step 4 – Where to get support and advice
When you work in a small to medium-sized business, it is impossible to do it all yourself. Sometimes you need a bit of help, support and advice. That is why here at Colton, we are on hand to support Orange, Bathurst, Dubbo and the surrounding regions to find the right IT solution for their business.
We can help with:
Proactive managed services to keep everything running smoothly
Choosing the right products and software when you need them
Once you have your business continuity plan in place, it is time to communicate it to your team. If you rely on someone like Office Manager Maggie to keep the place going, don’t just tell Maggie. She might only have taken one sick day in the last seven years, but what happens if she is uncontactable or away on holidays right when you need her? The whole team needs to understand the emergency plan.
If a new team member comes on board, you’ll also need to give them an introduction to the plan when they first start.
We know that 2020 and 2021 have been full of doom and disaster, which makes right now the perfect time to build a more robust, resilient business that is emergency ready.