If your business were to undergo a serious crisis beyond your control, could it survive? There are some simple, concrete steps you can take to make sure your business keeps making money even when times are darker than ever.
We are not talking about a purely financial crisis here; this is more about a crisis beyond anyone's control, like a hurricane, tsunami or even terrorist attack. This kind of event could end up being the most challenging time of your career - whether or not you are prepared.
Obviously, if you are prepared, and have put thought into a plan beforehand, you will be far more likely to survive the crisis, come out the other side, and keep making money.
When your business is hit by a crisis, the first thought on your employees' minds is going to be, "Will I still have my job?" And the first thought on your customers minds will be, "Should I take my business elsewhere?"
Your goal is to make sure that the answer to the first question is yes and the answer to the second question is no.
The most important thing is not to wait until a crisis occurs to think about how your business will handle it. You need to have a clear plan of action. Hopefully, you will never need to put it into action. But if the worst happens, you will be prepared.
Here's what you need to do immediately to start setting up your crisis preparation plan to help your business weather the storm, whatever it might be.
- Pinpoint your business' crucial money-making operations. Every business performs certain tasks they couldn't financially survive without, and others that are nice to have but not actually crucial to the financial success of the company. Prioritize all the operations of your business. The ones that you can't survive without are the ones you must keep doing no matter what. All other things - basically, any non-revenue generating tasks - can be put on hold until after the crisis.
By making this list now, you can immediately shut down the less important operations as soon as a crisis hits. You will save time, and you will also save money because you will know what to focus on.
- Cut the key operations down to the bare bones. Even with getting rid of non-essential tasks from your company's workflow, you may still have more than you can handle during the crisis. Therefore, the next thing you need to do when making your preparation plan is to figure out how you can simplify the key operations of your business.
You need to know how you would perform the key tasks if you didn't have access to all the bells and whistles, like a full workforce or complete technology. What if you lost internet access? What if you lost the ability to take credit card orders? Figure out how to perform these tasks in an emergency when resources are limited or damaged. Then you will be prepared to continue "business as usual" even when you don't have all your normal resources.
- Plan an alternative working space for employees. Imagine if your office or factory were in an evacuation zone or were physically damaged by the crisis, as many buildings were during the New Orleans tragedy. Where would your employees go? Do you want them sitting around at home waiting while the office is being rebuilt? Do you want to be losing money just through lack of working space? No. You must plan for this!
Have a space prepared, or train employees to work from home. Make sure people are comfortable working remotely, and that your company has the infrastructure in place to allow for off-site access. This way, even if your office is completely destroyed, you will be able to continue doing business.
Once you've prepared a plan using these three steps, share your ideas with your employees. There is no point being prepared if you are the only one who knows about it - what if something happens to you? Plus, you want everyone on the same page, ready to work together, poised to spring into action if a crisis should occur.
With preparation and a clear plan for what to do, your business can survive any emergency, and hopefully come through stronger than ever.