Business continuity advice

Every year 1 in 5 businesses face a major disruption to their services, and 1 in 10 of these will cease trading. If your premises were to suffer a fire, flood, utility failure etc, how would you maintain your critical business functions? How will you ensure your business survives?

Under the Civil Contingencies Act 2004, one of the duties of a local authority is to provide advice and guidance to local businesses about how to prepare your business for those small or large things (accidental or deliberate) which may cause unforeseen problems to your business.

Business continuity management is about protecting the things in your business that you can’t afford to lose, staff, stock, premises, information (customer or product information) and how to plan to try and prevent these things being affected.

Whether you are a market trader, voluntary organisation or have a small/medium business you need your business to be able to continue to keep the profits coming in and to be able to pay your staff.

Six steps

There are 6 basic steps you should think of for business continuity:

  1. What makes your business tick? What is its purpose and what are the businesses products/services?
  2. Assess the risk to your business; such as power cuts, floods, loss of access to your building, loss of staff or loss of key suppliers.
  3. Develop a strategy to deal with these risks. What needs to be done? How do these actions need to be taken? Who needs to perform these actions? Why are these actions needed? Where should these actions be performed?
  4. Develop and write your plan - it can be as simple or complex as you want it to be.
  5. Test your plan. You will need to make sure that it works and that your staff understand what to do and when.
  6. Review the plan regularly. Update information such as any new staff, any changes in suppliers, a change of location etc. as this will all affect your plan.

Questions to ask about your business

  • Is your business the main source of income for you and your family?
  • Does your business insurance cover you for all of the “risks” that you have listed (see question 2)
  • If you couldn’t access your business premises, could you still trade?
  • If your offices were vandalised and your computers, IT were damaged or stolen would you lose all of your customer / business information?
  • If your staff won the lottery, or were long term ill, would their jobs still get done?
  • If you couldn’t trade for a month, would your customers wait for you to re-open or would they go somewhere else?
  • Do you have a contingency plan in place to deal with an incident/disruption? ( Do you have a copy of the plan at home…?)
  • If you have answered “no” to 2 or more of these questions, your business may have difficulty surviving from a disruption or identified risk.

Download the business continuity handbook below for advice and information which will assist in developing a plan suited to your own business.