Disregarding superstitions and silliness, we all know disasters, disruptions, and incidents do not follow a schedule or normal business hours. These negative events can happen anytime, anywhere and usually unannounced. The fact is at any given time and place, you and your business are at risk of something bad happening. So what should you do about that? You have three options (and I’m not talking about bad things coming in three type of superstition here).
First of all, you can be afraid of everything, build a bunker, and hide out the rest of your life. Since bunkers are expensive, and quite honestly not many people would enjoy such seclusion, I am guessing that option isn’t very appealing to most people.
Second, you can do nothing. That’s right, nothing. You can NOT plan, NOT prepare, NOT train your staff, and in general just be-bop along with Mr. Bluebird on your shoulder in a land of make believe where nothing bad ever happens. You wouldn’t be alone. One survey from December 2012 I read said that 74% of American small businesses do not have any disaster plans at all. Three quarters of small businesses (those critical drivers of our national economy) do nothing at all to prepare for disasters, disruptions, or negative incidents.
Third, instead of “nothing” you can do “something” to prepare your business. That “something” could include a very broad range of actions. At the basic level, develop an Emergency Action Plan (EAP) to inform and educate your employees what they should do in case of an emergency in the workplace. If you have more than 10 employees this is an OSHA requirement. Develop basic response checklists for your key staff and complete a simple recovery plan are great next steps and don’t forget to conduct annual training for your employees. As your company grows, you’ll need to look at implementing a business continuity program that includes a more robust training program and exercises and tests of your processes, plans, and people. As you move out of the realm of small business you need to start thinking about compliance with other standards such as NFPA, OSHA, and ISO. But no matter what you do – do SOMETHING. A favorite phrase of mine is that small steps equal big gains. Small actions to prepare your company and staff can turn into major gains when a potential threat becomes a real event for your company.
Back to that middle choice for just a moment, another study found that of all businesses that have no continuity plans in place, just 29% of those businesses that suffer a disruption are still open two years later. So basically, playing the odds here, your business has about a 21% chance of survival if you go the “do nothing” route. Now that’s the stuff of nightmares if you own or manage a business.
So turn down the lights and watch a bad scary movie if you like on Friday the 13th, but for your business perhaps you should take a look at what you can do to prepare your company. I’d be glad to help your company be better prepared, stronger, and more resilient.