Making a Small Business Disaster Relief Plan
While COVID-19 is considered a disaster of its own right, there are numerous other uncontrollable disasters that can ruin a small business, from natural disasters to cyber attacks. Before COVID-19, as much as 75% of small businesses did not have a disaster relief plan and 40% had to permanently cease operations after a disaster event. With the strain that COVID-19 has placed on the economy, it is more important than ever for small businesses to have a disaster recovery plan.
Business Impact Analysis
A business impact analysis is an estimate of the cost of shutting down your business during a crisis. This estimate will help you determine how long you can stay closed without being put at risk. It should be noted that this estimate will change based on when the disaster happens: for example, a fire in a retailer before the holidays will have a much larger impact compared to one in February.
The analysis itself includes a calculation of how much your business can function without the internal processes and workflows that would be unavailable during a disaster. This analysis will also reveal which of these processes are the most necessary to restart first to keep your company operating.
Business Continuity Plan
After conducting a business impact analysis, you should identify and document the resources necessary to reduce the impact of a disaster. This can entail backing up important data, creating copies of important records, or utilizing third-party services for emergency relief. Conducting a gap analysis to analyze what you need against what you have can help you determine what strategies to implement.
A good business continuity plan will include a clear documentation of all recovery procedures and developing a workaround for the scenario in which your company loses all IT infrastructure. Your plan should also assign responsibilities and roles to an emergency team, to show who employees and customers should contact respectively, individuals and third-parties to call for emergency relief, and people to deal with authorities and the public. Your business plan should be thoroughly tested to check for weaknesses and subsequently address them.
In 2019, 66% of SMEs experienced a cyber attack. Cyber attacks represent a unique challenge as your IT infrastructure is compromised and few companies have the ability to properly respond and subsequently recover from a cyber attack.
A disaster plan will be worthless if your employees do not know what to do. Your instructions should clearly detail every stage of the plan, leaving no ambiguity by someone who may panic in the case of an emergency. All steps should be listed in chronological order, all necessary tasks should be specified, and your plan should use simple words to avoid any potential confusion.
You should also communicate with your clients and customers about the state of your business so that they are up-to-date.
Your vendors and suppliers may also be affected by a disaster which can disrupt your supply chain, so make sure you have the essential supplies to both deal with an emergency and continue business operations quickly. Creating emergency supply kits for employees and investing into a data backup system helps a company prepare for a sudden emergency.
You should also understand the disaster plans of your partner and client businesses, so that you can maximize the chances of continuing business with each other even after a large-scale disaster.
Contact the SBA
The Small Business Administration provides a number of resources to help small businesses in the case of an emergency, from advice to resources to financial aid. Small businesses can borrow the funding needed to repair or replace damaged assets by applying for an EIDL loan.
Disasters appear unexpectedly, but that does not mean your small business cannot be prepared for the worst-case scenarios. Investing your time and resources into crafting a strong disaster relief plan can be a hassle but is worthwhile if you want your business to have longevity.
Accel Business Funding has provided invoice factoring, business loans, and business lines of credit and has funded many businesses for more than $380 million. When banks say NO, we say YES to funding in 24 hours!