Is your business prepared for the worst? Do you have plans in place for emergency situations? There are processes you can put in place to make sure your business is able to operate in the wake of an emergency or disaster.
Before I became an entrepreneur, I worked in several different fields: academia, healthcare and in corporate America. In all of these areas, I was in operational roles in the backend of the businesses. That gave me a front row seat to the systems, processes, management, and the delivery of the services. In this episode, I want to break down more and more of those corporate operational skill sets.
I left corporate to create a life and a business that matched my values and accommodated my family. But in my haste to leave corporate, I overlooked some of the operational principles that have been so important in corporate development.
I’m here to help you improve your business as well as your clients’ businesses. The need for these principals have never been more necessary in the wake of COVID-19. This global pandemic caused us to question ourselves, pause, consider a pivot, and wonder about all of the “what-if” situations. But in March 2020, the entire globe was the same. It was sad and hard, but humbling as we watched the global economy shift.
Business Continuation Plans
These plans are common in corporate settings, and as small business owners we would have loved to have one of these at our disposal when COVID-19 struck. There was a lack of this in my business, and also in the businesses of my clients, students and peers. A business continuation plan serves to mitigate the risk that can disrupt your operations and profits.
“A business continuation plan won’t save you but it can help extend your time to take action.”
Small businesses are usually very lean, and I’ve learned that we are very co-dependent on processes and people. This plan will give you the ability to adapt quickly and prevent emotional decisions.
“If you can take the time to minimize your losses and emotionality, you’re going to come out with better financial stability.”
Parts of a Business Continuation Plan
Think about the critical functions of your business, which can be broken down into three areas: marketing, sales, and delivery/fulfillment.
Next, think about the 4 P’s: people, processes, profits, and partnerships.
I want you to view each of these through the lens of disaster and disruption. How would each of these be implemented if disaster struck? Which are the most critical, and who owns each process? Ultimately, are there any backups or alternatives to explore to prevent something worse from happening?
Who are the people who work for you? What is their role? What is their financial position? If there is a death of a co-worker, you need to know what their capacity is and their responsibilities in your business. How much do you pay them? How and when do you pay them? This needs to be documented so that in case of disaster, the business can carry on. This also applies to YOU.
These refer to all of the systems and process documents that you’ve been putting off. Look at it from a marketing, sales and delivery perspective. What are the critical processes for your lead generation, making the sale, and how will you make sure you deliver on your promises to your customer. What are the tools and software you use? If something were to go down, what is your backup plan? The easiest way to do this is to go through your yearly profit and loss statement.
Think about the way you generate revenue in your business, and where it comes from (this applies to both service based and product based businesses.) If you are service based, what happens if your main lead generation mechanism isn’t available any longer? What happens if your scheduling tools are no longer an option?
If you are a product based business, what happens if you are shipping in materials from other countries and they have a natural disaster? Do you have a backup supplier? How do you document your inventory?
These are related to your business operations. What happens if the banks collapse? What if there is a political uprising? What happens if regulations are imposed? What happens if utilities, transportation or imports are affected? What will you do and how is your business planning for these scenarios?
“You need to draft a plan and allow it to be imperfect. Put something in place, and review it every quarter.”
Having a business continuation plan will decrease the emotional toll that disasters take on you. Most small businesses probably don’t have one of these plans, but I want to encourage you to prioritize this work. As we experience what is happening in 2020, we need to take note of the lessons that are being taught to us. We have more to lose in a catastrophic state. If you have a business continuation plan, you are able to equip yourself to make better decisions.
Diversity and Inclusion Plan
The second operational plan that you need to establish in your business is a diversity and inclusion plan. I spent six years of my corporate experience in this area, and want to help you get this plan into place. The systemic problems with racial injustice are strongly present and we must address them.
We are seeing a lot of excitement and commitment online to eradicating racial injustice, but my biggest fear is the sustainment of it; that it will fall flat out of the competition of all the things you have to get done in your business. But, the easiest way to make a diversity and inclusion plan a reality is to actually create a plan that suits your unique business. I’m going to provide you the templates that I’m using in my business for free so that you can have the structure that you need to make these advancements in your business.
A diversity and inclusion plan is the business strategies and the practices you commit to in order to creating a diverse workplace. Diversity includes race, age, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, ethnicity, family status, veteran status, generation, languages, life preferences, life experiences, personality type, physical characteristics, and thinking & learning styles.
First, evaluate the list and see where you have needs and concerns. Then start with the applicable gaps. For small businesses, it is essential to prioritize this list. Look at your values and your consumer, and I hope the advancement of anti-racism is in your value set. Therefore “race” is a value that should be at the top of your list.
Once you have your priorities/objective set, you will need to create your plan. In the coming episodes, I will be creating a diversity and inclusion audit specifically for small online businesses so you can assess your business, your brand image, your messaging, the talent and your reach. It will be the guide for starting the work that is long overdue, which will lead you in creating a diversity and inclusion plan.
I believe that these two best practices that we have outlined today have snuck out of the small business space, and they need to be present! I’m going to do it, and I hope you will join me.
Weekly Ops Activity
Come to my FB group and tell me what date will you commit to creating the business continuation plan and the diversity and inclusion plan by. I want to be your accountability partner, and I don’t want us to get distracted!
Join the Ops Insiders Facebook Community:
Other Ways to Connect with Me: