Creating a Winning Business Continuity Plan

Good business leadership skills means being ready for the worst, because you can’t expect to always be on top of your game. So many things are out of your control; a calamity can strike, an economic downturn could affect sales. All these can happen without notice. When it does, it can really hurt your business.

Having a business continuity plan is the best way to be ready for the bad times. A well run business must have this plan memorized by key leaders and managers to ensure that things run smoothly even when the unexpected happens. Preparing one when a calamity hits may be too late, you may not have enough time to create and implement it to rescue your business.

If you don’t have one yet, then you ought to get your team together and start drafting your business continuity plan now. A business continuity plan will prepare your management team and employees for internal disruptions and external threats by providing you a specific course of action for any possible scenario.

Here are a few essential guidelines for a continuity plan:

Expect the worst

List all the bad and not-so bad scenarios that your business might face. Expect that there will be all sorts of unexpected downturns, calamities, internal issues, human error and so many more. When you make your plan, make sure you factor in the worst possible scenario and jot down the preventive measures and recovery plan for each.

Draw out specific action points

The continuity plan must be specific and complete with clear action points and goals for every possible scenario. Knowing the next steps to be taken will give your employees a sense of direction, especially in times of uncertainty. Don’t forget to list key profit drivers and products that need to be continuously managed, and vanity tasks or departments that could be let go or downsized if the company needs to cut down on expenses.

Educate your employees

Once your business continuity plan is in place, make sure the information is cascaded to the rest of the organization. Good business leadership means taking the time to discuss this continuity plan to senior managers, then asking them to relay it to their down line. Each employee in the organization must be aware of what to do and how to act in the case of a worst scenario. Everyone must immediately move into emergency mode without groping in the dark. Conduct training sessions to educate each one of your plan and how their roles tie in the big picture.

Keep essential processes running

Your continuity plan should take into account key business process like data storage, hardware operations, work force, information systems, and other key services. These essential processes must be kept interconnected and running smoothly so that the overall business production is not disrupted. When you are able to manage these critical systems, you can continue running even during adverse circumstances.

CEOs with good business leadership skills know how important it is to create business continuity plan not only for the business but also to help your employees keep their jobs even when times are down. You owe it to your people to be on top of every situation.

© 2013 Incedo Group, LLC

Business Success: Why You Need A Plan Of Action

In this article I am going to talk about why you need to have a plan of action in place for business success. If you don’t know what you’re aiming for then how are you going to achieve an unknown?

I believe one of the best ways of coming up with a plan of action is to look at your business as a whole. If you know your overall business plan and you know how everything fits together, then you will be able to break things down so that you have a plan that you can execute.

Let’s take Internet marketing as an example. If you are wanting to market your business on the Internet then you need to understand Internet marketing. So in this case your goal would be to market your business effectively on the Internet. You need to have a clear picture of what that means and the various aspects of it.

Here are some things you would need to consider:

  • who is my customer?
  • where is my customer online
  • how can I target my customer
  • how will I generate traffic
  • how will I communicate with my customers
  • how will I set up payments online

You can see that there are many aspects involved in marketing any business using the Internet. I have only written a few examples above but there are plenty more things that you need to think about.

Until you have a clear picture of the overall process of your business you will not be able to break it down enough for you to take action.

If you think about it every little action you take is like a step closer to your ultimate goal. If you don’t know what that ultimate goal is and how will you know the little steps that you need to take to reach it?

When you are able to see your business overall and you can see where you are now and where you want to be, you will be able to backtrack and identify all of the steps that need to be taken in order to get to where you want to be.

This is what I recommend. Look at specific areas of your business and what you want to achieve, what your goal are in that area. Then write down all the steps you need to take to achieve that goal in that specific area. Once you have done this for all areas of your business then you can begin to put things in a particular order.

For example, which area or aspect of your business would you need to work on first? When you have completed that particular area what part of your business would you need to work on second? You will find that there are many areas of your business that actually overlap and therefore you will have to work on them simultaneously. However if you have a plan of action in place for each specific area it becomes far easier for you to take that action and for you to see the progress that you want to see.

Managing the Financial Risks, Investing in Your Business

As you have likely realized by now the risks of starting, owning and operating a business are significant and numerous. As such a significant part of the strategic planning for any business owner involves managing these risks properly, in order to ensure that the best balance between cost of mitigation, and exposure is struck. And whether you are a small or large business, it is essential that you have, and maintain, a solid strategy for managing those risks.

In terms of establishing a proper plan for investing in your business, I would suggest that you at least consider some of the aspects for managing those risks, including:

1. Investing with a plan.

Though investing in your business will not often be the largest of the exposures you will encounter in your business life, if not managed carefully it could potentially prove disastrous to your financial wellbeing. One of the key things to consider is that throwing money at your business for the sake of investing, is a pointless exercise. So it is very important that when you do invest, you actually invest with a specific purpose in mind. And in terms of this I am not suggesting some generalized idea of a purpose, but an actual purpose with an objective, budget and complete spending plan. Applying this approach will ensure that the money is put to good use, and not just wasted on trivialities.

2. Calculate the cost of your investment.

A second consideration specific to investment in your business is an accounting of the loss of earning potential possible from alternate sources. Asking yourself whether the investment would yield a better return elsewhere, would most certainly help you make a more balanced decision on how, and how much you invest. Recognizing of course that often the returns from investment in your own business are more long term, I would suggest that you do the actual math. If your plan is a 5 year plan, calculate the interest lost, versus the amount you expect to get in return, from your business investment. Consider the risks of both, and then weigh your options carefully. And do remember the value of your business growth is also technically a return.

3. Invest in assets.

Although not always possible, one of the best ways to mitigate investment risk is to invest in assets. In other words buy things that you can sell in order to recuperate your loss, if the business (or specific investment) fails. Resalable inventory would prove a better investment than furniture for your office. Thus buying an expensive leather chair with the money you invested is probably not the best idea. And of course investing in assets that could generate direct profit would improve your odds of getting a decent return.

4. Hire an expert

More often than not I have noted that business people invest in intangibles like marketing and branding, thinking they will get huge returns from this. The unfortunate thing is that more often than not, the returns are not what they expect them to be, and the money ends up being wasted and lost. In order to mitigate your risk of loss, I would strongly urge you to retain the services of an expert in what you are buying. For example, it will prove well worth your while to hire a marketing guru, rather than going at it on your own. It will most definitely increase your success and rate of return.

Of course there are many other potential exposures, all of which could have a significantly impact on your return on investment and business success overall. Realizing however that planning, based on proper research, is key to not making large mistakes in this arena, it is important to spend the time to ensure the best possible outcome.

I wish you all the best with your ventures, and invite you to share your ideas and stories here.