By Carol Roth
Whether you have a solo business or are in charge of a variety of employees, you need to have a plan for the unexpected. Whether it is a natural disaster, death, cyberattack or other unplanned event, small businesses are incredibly vulnerable when things don’t go the right way.
So, where should your priorities stand in terms of planning? Here are three places where you should make sure to plan ahead.
A Cybersecurity Plan
Security breaches are happening more and more frequently, and small business owners have become big targets for hackers, knowing that SMBs have less of a focus on cybersecurity and are often the gateway to bigger customers. This makes a cybersecurity plan a must for any small business.
Obviously, the best plan is to try not to get attacked. As most attacks come from employee behavior, like clicking on phishing email links and files, make sure to constantly train employees and set up strict security rules.
If you do get attacked, have a strong backup system in place, preferably in the cloud for easy access. Enlist a cybersecurity expert to make sure that your systems are all encompassing and separate from where a breach might occur. Accounting systems, customer information, orders, vendor information and other important files should all be covered.
And, make sure that your cybersecurity plan includes PR, as any business that is a cybersecurity victim will likely have negative news disseminated to customers, vendors and even the public at large. Your plan should include correspondence and actions if one of a variety of scenarios occurs.
A Succession Plan
When a death or a serious accident happens to anyone, it creates chaos for their family. For small business owners, it wreaks havoc on their businesses, as well. Having been through the chaos of the unexpected before, my team and I created the Future File system to help individuals and their loved ones become more prepared for unexpected events.
One of the things I advocate is you have a succession plan in place that encompasses your loved ones and your employees. Ensure that your loved ones know your business interests and also have key contact information for your point person at work. You can work on these yourself or use a system like Future File that helps you organize information in one place for your loved ones.
In your business, have a plan of disseminating information internally and externally, including what to say to customers and clients, vendors and other partners, and how to contact them.
Whether by your loved ones or your business partners, make sure that access can be gained- whether to the office itself, computers, client files, social media accounts, email, etc.
And finally, make sure that you have an interim and long-term clear succession plan in place and that your wishes are communicated to your loved ones.
An Emergency Plan
While each area of the country has its own type of disasters that are more frequent, anything from fires to floods can happen anywhere.
Your emergency plan should include having access to all of your data remotely (which should be covered by your cybersecurity plan, too), as well as a continuity plan that discusses how you will continue to do business if an emergency would arise.
Also, make sure that you have proper insurance in place that covers not just any physical property, but business interruptions, as well.
Make sure that you have copies of critical documents stored electronically or in a second, separate location, so that you can easily access them in time of need.
If you work from home, you will also need to have access to personal information with your business information. Again, a system like Future File can help you organize the information, so it is all in one place.
While it is never fun to think about bad things, planning in advance provides monetary, stress and time benefits should the occasion arise. It’s a small investment that can pay dividends if and when the unexpected happens.
Carol Roth is the Creator of the Future File® Legacy Planning system, “recovering” investment banker and New York Times bestselling author.