Developing an effective crisis plan

Congratulations! Now you know what possible crises can occur and how they will impact your business. You may have even gotten far enough that you’ve figured out how to move some of those Red Range events into the Yellow or Blue areas.

You still need a plan. As noted earlier, having a well-crafted crisis plan allows you to manage any situation on the fly with confidence. Though you may never know when a fire will break out, at least you’ll know where the fire extinguishers are.

Plan Elements

A business crisis plan – or business continuity plan – has several essential elements. How comprehensive your plan is depends on your crisis planning and management acumen as well as the size of your company or operations. Obviously, a larger company or one with satellite operations requires a more detailed plan than a small community business with a couple of employees.

A crisis plan:

  • Outlines who is on the response team, including any subject matter experts.
  • Defines the roles of each member as well as the location and setup of the Crisis Command Center.
  • Defines the initial steps for responding to a crisis so you can take immediate action while enacting other portions of the plan that may require longer lead times, such as finding an alternative place to work.
  • Outlines the steps required to handle media inquiries.
  • Includes contact information for local businesses that may be needed in an emergency response (locksmiths, 24-hour food vendors, electricians, IT specialists, city officials, etc.).
  • Serves as the operational plan both in times of crisis and during rehearsals.

A quick word here. Every business owner should have at least a basic crisis plan. Even if you are the only one in the company, you want to map out some fundamental steps to ensure that your business can continue if a natural or manmade disaster strikes. It doesn’t have to read like War and Peace. But it should have the basics, even if you’re the only subject matter expert and the Crisis Command Center is your spare bedroom.

You can use artificial intelligence to help you frame your plan. You still have to provide the details specific to your business, but a tool such as ChatGTP will auto-generate an outline to work from. See an example in Section 15: Templates & Resources.


Need an example?

During the pandemic, the state built out a crisis planner for COVID. It touches on many of these aspects and was designed specifically for small businesses that needed to close due to public health orders.