A beginner’s guide to Business Continuity
Business continuity is a concept that every business owner will come across in one or more forms at some point in their business.
It isn’t exactly a new concept but at the rate that business and technology is expanding, there is so much more to take into consideration than there was even 10 years ago.
Business continuity and data recovery has changed from something that only large corporations should do to something that is easily accessible to business owners from all walks of life.
Now if you feel like you need to be eased into the topic, here’s what you need to know.
What Is Business Continuity?
Business continuity is the business’ ability to maintain a high level of functionality during disasters or unforeseen circumstances and/or to recover quickly and efficiently after such events.
In essence business continuity is not necessarily about being ‘always on’ but also about being able to function as well as possible in the given circumstances.
Contrary to popular belief, every business needs a business continuity plan, even something as ordinary as a small hair salon.
Business continuity will require a comprehensive plan of action for several situations and incidents, based on a risk assessment that we’ll discuss below.
As crazy as it may sound, the best and most expensive plan won’t work unless it is catered to your business’ unique needs.
You will have to actually sit down and take a look at the various factors that could be posing a risk to your business.
Be as thorough as possible, even the smallest detail could make a tremendous difference.
In fact, it is often the small details that could pose the biggest risk.
When doing (or hiring someone to do) a risk assessment you can take the following factors into account:
Although the risk of environmental disaster has decreased in severity compared to, say, Cyber Attacks or Ransomware, it would be foolish to discount potential threats just because they are less likely to happen.
But if you are in a hot zone for some sort of natural disaster like Tornados, for example, the risk that they pose is much more serious and demands preparation.
Environmental factors are more than just tornados though, things like power outages and water cuts can also affect your business.
Imagine if a hair salon didn’t have water or power.
How would the business function?
Issues related to hardware, appliances and other types of equipment can impact a business in a serious way.
If a computer’s power supply fails ( from a power surge) and you don’t have a backup or recovery system in place, how will that employee keep working?
And if that employee is the only one who has access to a specific client’s files?
Think of that catastrophe.
Malware and Cyber Attacks
Malware – malicious hardware – such as ransomware and viruses are an increasing threat to modern businesses.
In fact, according to statistics, a cyber attack is more likely than a physical one and these types of threats are only going to grow with the age and performance of the business.
If there is time and money to be spent on anything, this is where you should spend it, even if you don’t quite understand how it works.
Physical threats, no matter the likelihood, are still threats and security is an issue that should never be taken lightly.
Especially when your staff and customers could be put in danger due to lack of attention to this category.
If you think your business is fine with regards to security then ask yourself if someone were to break in right now and steal your information and your expensive equipment, how would your business cope if at all?
This is the risk you run if you don’t have any sort of backup system.
Identify Important Operations
There is unfortunately not a blueprint you can follow to help you identify what operations (systems) should be your priority.
It will differ from business to business.
The hard work is figuring out what operating systems your business desperately needs to survive and focus your continuity plan on that first.
This is especially important if you have a small budget and or are otherwise struggling to make heads or tails from this concept of business continuity.
In other words, a hairdresser may benefit more from investing in an external water tank if the business is in an area where water cuts are common than a $42 monthly backup and recovery subscription.
Prevention is better than cure, you’ve heard it many times before and the same is true for business continuity.
You should get the necessary systems in place before you may feel an overwhelming need for them.
Every business owner should think of the future, good and bad and be prepared in case of either.
Preventing the potential disasters you are capable of preventing is a step in the right direction.
Putting a plan in place to mitigate the consequences of disasters is the essential concept of business continuity and that’s what you should aim for.
Backup and Data Protection
There’s been a lot of buzz on the internet about backup and recovery
But what exactly is it?
Backup is basically making copies of your files in order to keep it safe, and there are different ways to go about it.
- On-site – This is just backing up your files to a local storage system.
- Off-Site – Off-site storage of copies at facilities that are often offered by specialist companies in the industries.
- Cloud-based – The modern way of going about backup is cloud-based backup and there are some pretty impressive software systems that can keep your backups safe from all sorts of dangers.
Depending on how complex your business continuity plan is you will have to make annual, quarterly or monthly maintenance checkups on it.
Other things like health and safety and disaster preparation will have to be checked and maintained more strictly, more frequently, and kept according to standard.