Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Who You Gonna Call?

Crises happen.

Your star employee's husband just accepted a new job in South Carolina and she's moving. Your administrative assistant comes down with a sudden illness; she files for disability. Your server gets infected with a virus and you lose your entire database.

When the unexpected happens, will you be prepared?
Follow these suggestions to ensure that your business can stay afloat when hard times hit:
Document business procedures and key information.
Take advantage of your business's down season and ask your staff to document important job functions and organize key hard copy and computer files.

Clarify goals and expectations.
Spend an hour with each employee to review job descriptions; check to see that you're on schedule with employee reviews and catch up when necessary.

Bring in some back-up experts.
Hire an IT firm to run a diagnostic scan on your hard drives, analyze your network's security programs, and recommend hardware and software updates. If you don't already have a back-up process in place, have them set up an automated one for you.

Check your coverage.
How much of your business is computer-dependent? Did you know that some insurance companies have a policy add-on to compensate you for lost income in the event of computer malfunction or theft? Contact your insurance agent to discuss this option as well as to ensure that your business is adequately covered for other emergencies.

Protect the knowledge.
Identify the critical tasks at your business and who's responsible for carrying them out. If something were to happen to that person, how long would it take your business to get back on track? Prevent a future standstill by cross-training another employee in critical business systems.

Recruit a team before you need them.
What would happen if you had a PR nightmare on your hands? Do you have a trusted firm you can count on to help you through it? What if your business were sued by a former employee or by a customer? Few people make great decisions in times of crisis. Network now and find the expert resources you would want to call on in times of need.

Assess, then access, cash.
Many small businesses don't have cash reserves. The best time to open a credit line is before you need it. Consider opening a new line of credit at your bank or obtaining a new business credit card account to have back-up money available in case of emergency.

No business can completely shield itself from crises, but with forethought and conscientiousness, you'll be better prepared to handle them when they come.

1 comment:

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