Planning for Business Continuity During COVID-19

Planning for Business Continuity During COVID-19

family run business advice usf gellert center california

Many things feel uncertain right now, and it’s easy to worry about our families and our businesses.

But the best thing you can do for your business is to face challenges head on, with an open-minded and realistic outlook. We’ve prepared a list of questions to ask yourself that will help you maintain business continuity through the months ahead.

First, be honest with your family and employees

As a leader in your business and family, people are looking to you for answers. They want to know what to expect. While exploring the questions here, remember that the best approach is honesty. Knowing what’s likely coming is better than being in the dark, especially if employees need to prepare themselves and their families for rough times. Be transparent and empathetic with staff concerns.

Questions to ask yourself while planning for business continuity

Unfortunately, we don’t know what the months ahead will look like. As you think through these questions, remember that it’s important to be flexible with your strategies. Think outside of the box but also think realistically about what needs to be done for your business to weather the storm.

It can be tempting to think only about how to get through the next few weeks but it’s important to continue to prepare your business for not just the next month but for the next year, next 5 years, and beyond. Here are some questions to ask yourself to make sure you’re thinking long term and planning for successful business continuity.

Are my digital assets in order?

We know it can feel intimidating or time consuming, but making sure all your information is readily available online is essential. The world is remote right now. It’s a missed opportunity (and potentially your only one) if you’re not showcasing your business on the internet.

  • Do I have a website? Even just a single landing page with accurate information will be helpful.
  • Is my website up to date with contact information, hours, products/services, and COVID-19 related info?
  • Is my social media up to date with contact information, hours, products/services, and COVID-19 related info?
  • Is my Yelp information accurate and up to date?
  • Is my Google My Business listing information accurate and up to date?

If you’re not sure about the answers or don’t know how to go about making these changes, ask your staff or consider hiring a professional to make updates.

Do I need to adjust my staffing?

Obviously, you want to do anything you can to keep your team intact, but it’s important to be realistic. If keeping everyone on board means sinking the business, it doesn’t help anyone. The answers to these questions are especially important to share with your staff and family. Ask yourself…

  • Do we need to hire more staff to cover changing operations?
  • What are the chances of layoffs?
  • Will employees still receive Christmas bonuses (or any bonuses)?
  • Are there freezes on raises or promotions, and if so, for how long?
  • Is it possible for my staff to work remotely? Some of my staff? Some days in the office and some days at home?

It’s your business. Run the numbers, think about it, and you’ll know what’s right.   

How can I strategically invest in business continuity?

It’s scary spending money in a time of uncertainty, but make sure that you’re thinking about how to keep your business thriving long-term. Set yourself up for success by making strategic investments in key areas of your business. Ask…

  • Are there any government funding programs I haven’t applied to?
  • Do I need to take out a loan or invest more of my own money to make changes?
  • Do I need new staff to adjust to changing operations?
  • Would investing in marketing/advertising support help my business right now?
  • Do I need a new website to support online commerce?
  • Would any of the changes I’m making to my business go more smoothly if I invested in new equipment or infrastructure?

Think in terms of your business’ longevity, not just controlling losses/maximizing profits this month.

How are my customers’ needs changing?

Make sure your offerings are relevant. This is a changing environment and you’ll need to stay open minded. Ask yourself…

  • What do my customers need now that they didn’t need before COVID-19?
  • How can I keep my customers safe while they engage with my business?
  • Have my customers’ schedules changed, and do I need to adjust my business hours to match?
  • Are there changes I can make to my operations to better accommodate my high-risk customers—like a senior/at risk shopping hour?

Be flexible and creative. Now is not the time to dig in your heels and say, “this is how we’ve always done it.”

Planning for the worst-case scenarios…

No one wants to think about the worst possible outcomes, but in these times, it’s important to recognize that they’re possible. Planning ahead can lessen the blow. Ask yourself…

  • What happens if another shutdown occurs?
  • What’s the plan if a customer or employee gets sick?
  • What will happen at work if a staff member or one of their family members gets very sick or dies?

These are hard questions to answer but you’ll be glad you prepared if you end up in any of these situations.

How am I taking care of myself for the long term?

When things get hard, it’s easy to dive in, double down on your hard work, and not come up for air until the situation is improved. But the reality is, the situation might not improve for months or even years.

If you don’t block out time to recoup or think about the big picture, you’ll get stuck and lose sight of business continuity. Not to mention you won’t feel very good. So, ask yourself…

  • How am I making time for long term planning?
  • Can I take one day a month out of my normal operations to strategize, plan logistics for future efforts, and check in on how my plans from the previous months are evolving?
  • How can I make time for myself and my family?
  • Are there one or two days a week I can be completely out of the office?
  • Am I taking time to appreciate small wins on a daily basis?
  • What in my life can I feel grateful for when things are difficult at my business?

If you burn yourself out and don’t care for your mental health, you won’t be well enough to run your business the way it needs.

Remember, there are no easy answers during uncertain times, but if you take the time to answer the big questions head on, you’ll be better prepared for all scenarios. You, your family, your business, and your staff will all benefit when you plan realistically and open-mindedly for the long term.

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