Few people predicted the COVID-19 pandemic and the devastating effects it has had on businesses, both large and small. But one certainty to emerge from this public health crisis is the need for continuity planning for organizations of all sizes.

Fire, earthquakes, tornadoes, information technology and utility disruptions, and the sickness or death of key employees are all sources of disruptions to business. As many have experienced, pandemics also can disrupt business continuity.

When operations are disrupted, it costs businesses money, says Bear Afkhami, consultant and author of “The Startup King.” Planning for disruptions is key to surviving them. The steps in business continuity planning include:

  • Identifying critical business resources and processes.
  • Brainstorming what can affect those resources and processes.
  • Identifying solutions, alternatives and/or workarounds for different situations.
  • Assigning responsibility for implementing key actions during a crisis.
  • Practicing your plan and updating it as necessary.

According to Afkhami, contingency planning does not be expensive and can be handled by business owners without outside assistance. He has developed an easy-to-use template based on models developed by homeland security experts. To download this template, click here.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers a variety of free templates to help small businesses plan for emergencies. This is an example of their offerings. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) also has a variety of resources to help businesses plan for IT disruptions.

If your business does not have a continuity plan, now is certainly a good time to develop one.
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Akfami was a guest on the July 21 Emergency Operations Center Private-Sector Call hosted by Emergency Services Director Clay Stamp and Cassandra Vanhooser, Director of Economic Development and Tourism. You’ll find more COVID-19 resources here.