A ‘Between Waves’ Planner for Small Businesses

2. Business Continuity

  • Realize that in a subsequent wave, your business may be affected again, so prepare for that eventuality now. Even if the wave is less intense than a prior one, you can expect an increase in absenteeism, a falloff in sales or foot traffic, and perhaps even less worker productivity.
  • Develop a formal process for implementing Delegations of Authority and other financial and legal processes/paperwork so they can be executed remotely. Ideally, you should have layers two-deep, so you always have at least one available backup. More than one is preferable.
  • Establish or update your succession plan should something happen to you or one of your essential employees.
  • Your Business Continuity Plan should outline everything needed to sustain operations in a subsequent wave and reduction or suspension of commerce.
    • At the least, your business should be able to operate with minimal face-to-face interaction between employees, customers and suppliers.
    • Operations should be able to continue, even if some of your key employees or managers are temporarily unavailable due to illness or hospitalization.
    • Your supply chain should be flexible enough to suspend and start deliveries quickly. You will want to identify and engage alternate suppliers and delivery channels and discuss storage options for inventory, equipment and orders in transit.
    • Build a systematic method for suspending, closing and resuming operations. The process you implemented during the initial wave should serve as a guide. Document all the steps so you can implement them consistently and quickly for any business disruption.
    • Share the basics of this plan with key stakeholders, including suppliers and vendors so they know you have a Business Continuity Plan in place and who the coordinator or team members are.
  • Determine who on your staff needs to be paid, how long they will be paid if business operations are suspended, if and how they can work remotely, how paid time off may be used and what benefits will be paid and for how long.
  • Create duplicate digital records of all your critical business documents so they can be accessed remotely. This includes your business license, articles of incorporation, partnership agreements, bylaws, EIN and UBI numbers, corporate seal, minutes and resolutions from official meetings, tax records, insurance policies, software registration numbers, vendor lists, employee directories, personnel records, etc.
  • Move all critical data onto secure cloud servers. Set up automated systems for keeping the data updated daily or at least weekly, so it is reasonably up to date.
  • Ensure that each worker has the level of access they need for files stored in the cloud.
  • Develop and maintain a technology plan that identifies critical and non-essential functions, offers remote access to data, systems and computers, provides website access to multiple employees and provides mechanisms for issuing and recovering login and password information.
  • Develop plans for doing payroll, billing and collection functions remotely.
  • Establish procedures for suspending operations, securing and monitoring facilities and managing the closure of your business operation.