I went into a small shopping centre the other day to take my clothes to the dry cleaner. The shopping centre was without electricity and the dry cleaning staff couldn’t accept my order because they don’t even have a manual system in place. The supermarket in the same centre was running its diesel generator to protect and preserve its perishable stock such as frozen products and refrigerated goods.
Power outages unfortunately affects the livelihoods of small business owners. In the instance that I mention, the power was out for two days. Water services that have been out in parts of the city have affected all sorts of small businesses including hair salons, gyms and car wash operations. Postal services have been down for more than three months with critical mail undelivered to small businesses. Yes, you may say that small businesses can use courier services but the costs for regular items can be astronomical.
It may be possible for some small businesses to courier critical products such as certain medical suppliers or electronic components, for example, but without postal services costs skyrocket. One just hopes that providers of these critical services make plans to reduce their backlogs, deal with their issues and get their basic public services back on track.
It’s ironic that service providers pat themselves on the back continuously in open public for what a good job they are doing and how sustainable they are yet they don’t appear to have business continuity plans to deal with extended and costly interruptions to these services. Business continuity plans are needed for the sustainability of these institutions that affect the lives not only of their employees but also the many small businesses that are trying to survive under difficult circumstances.
Does your own small business have a business continuity plan? Do you have plans to deal with a range of potential crises, interrupted critical services or natural disasters?
In the United States, for instance, even the government provides business continuity tools for small and medium-size businesses that they can obtain online. You might wonder why this is needed but consider the number of hurricanes, floods and tornadoes that impact small and medium-size businesses. The government’s business readiness website leads small business owners through a step-by-step process that is easy to follow and practical and makes business continuity planning within reach of small and medium size businesses at no extra cost.
Business continuity planning may not be something that you have given much thought towards. But in uncertain times and where critical services may be interrupted for long periods, it may pay you to to start looking into business continuity planning, especially if your small business is particularly vulnerable, before the next disaster strikes.