Business Continuity in the New Business Normal: 5 Tips for SMBs
Business continuity as a priority for small and mid-sized organizations isn’t new. But the COVID-19 crisis brought the critical importance of having a continuity plan in place to light.
An estimated 200,000 excess business closures occurred during the first year of the pandemic. Those companies that were prepared for the unexpected were better able to cope with the disruption.
A study published by the ASIS Foundation, Resilience, Business Continuity, and COVID-19, found that organizations with a resilient workforce, good communication, and strong leadership were in the best position when COVID hit.
While COVID won’t impact the way businesses operate forever, there’s always the risk for other types of disruption, on a local, national, or global level. From natural disasters to cyberattacks, the bottom line is, SMBs should have tools and processes in place to ensure continuity when the unexpected occurs.
Here are five business continuity tips SMBs can use to make sure they are ready for the future.
Tip #1 – Identify Vulnerabilities
To get started with business continuity planning, you need to define what you’re up against.
Assess what types of disasters your business could face. Create a list detailing each threat, how it could affect your business, and what steps you could take to minimize losses and prevent business disruption.
For example, if your company has an office in a flood-prone area:
- How likely is a flood that could impact your business within a year?
- How long would your business not be able to operate if there’s a flood at your location or nearby, thus preventing employees from traveling to the office?
- What tools and processes could you adopt to minimize or prevent downtime, and is the cost of implementing them worth the potential benefits?
With this information, you’ll have a better understanding of what your business and employees require to become more resilient.
Tip #2 – Use Continuous Backups
The number one asset your business can’t afford to lose – your data. If you lose your data, your organization probably can’t function. You can face lost business, reputation damage, and legal challenges if your customer or employee data is compromised in a cyberattack.
For small businesses, the average cost of a cyberattack is $25,612. To become less vulnerable, make sure your company can continue operating even if a hacker goes after your systems. With real-time file storage, you can save, sync, and access the most current version of all your files.
And with cloud storage, employees can access backed-up data and files from any device, no matter where they are located. This enables a high level of agility and empowers your teams to continue operating, even when a hacker goes after your business.
Tip #3 – Prioritize Cloud Migration
Continuous backup is one thing. To ensure business continuity, consider moving your systems and communications to the cloud.
According to IBM’s Cost of a Data Breach Report 2021, organizations that are further along in their cloud modernization strategy are able to contain a breach 77 days faster than those in the early stages of migration.
Having a cloud computing stack doesn’t just protect against cyber threats. It also increases resiliency to power outages, ensures swift access to data recovery after any type of disaster, and enables employees to work from home, at the office, or anywhere else, without a drop in productivity.
Tip #4 – Enable Greater Employee Flexibility
Post-pandemic, this enhanced workforce flexibility will play a key role in building resilience for SMBs.
For small to mid-sized companies, shifting to a remote or hybrid workforce is easier than it is for larger organizations. This gives SMBs an advantage. They can adopt the right cloud communications software, move business systems to the cloud, train employees on security best practices, and transition from office-based to remote within days.
And when your employees can work from wherever, no lockdown, natural disaster, or other curveballs can get in the way of your operations. Your teams can continue taking business calls, collaborating with one another, and meeting with clients and partners through virtual communications tools.
Tip #5 – Create a Business Continuity Plan and Share It with Employees
Now, document your plan. Establish what steps your business can take in the near term to protect against disruption.
- What communications tools and backup solutions will you adopt?
- Where are you on your cloud migration journey, and what steps can you take now to further it?
- What hardware will your teams need so they can work from home?
- What cybersecurity training and information do your employees need to help them operate remotely?
- What is your timeline for each step?
Once you have all this information documented, share it with employees so everyone on your staff is on the same page.
Ultimately, building a more resilient organization and ensuring business continuity is a group effort. Make sure all of your teams are informed, empowered with the right tools, and know who to reach out to if they have questions about any of the changes your business is making.
To get started with the technology side of things, explore Intermedia’s cloud solutions. From unified communications to cloud file backup, we have the tools that will keep everyone on your team connected, wherever work takes you.