For Floridians, 2014 was a good year as far as hurricanes were concerned. The season officially began on June 1 and ended on November 30. Hurricane Eduardo created some wave action on the northeastern side of the state, but nothing major was reported. According to the National Hurricane Center, the 2014 hurricane season lived up to the forecast predictions for a light year.
The same is true of the Ebola virus outbreak. The 2014 Ebola epidemic is the largest in history, affecting many countries in West Africa and across the world. With more than 20,000 cases resulting in more than 13,000 deaths, the state of Florida was spared. The outbreak in the United States has been light quantitatively, with only four reported cases, including one death.
We’ve come through the hurricane season. We missed the 2014 Ebola scare. The prevailing question for you as a business owner or manager is, “Were you prepared?”
Each year businesses face all types of challenges – budgets, competitors, unhappy customers, etc. These challenges keep businesses on their toes, but unexpected crises and calamity can also take a business out. A good manager will address all of the potential pitfalls and develop strategies to offset or deter their occurrence if possible. Being prepared for the contingencies may be the difference between keeping the doors open with a steady stream of customers and shutting down for an undetermined amount of time with a loss of revenue.
One of the best things a company can do is to develop a business continuity plan. One of the best ways for a small business to start the planning is to perform a SWOT analysis of your business. The SWOT analysis is a great tool for working all on all types of assessments of your business.
SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. In this case, the business owner along with his employees, if he likes, will list all the businesses strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats that they can think of. After these are listed, they need to be categorized by level of importance in each of the four categories.
For crisis management first look at the list of threats identified. Identify the items that would cause your business the most harm. Next, suggest ways that you can mitigate the threat before it happens. Identify as many ways as possible to keep the threat from happening. Follow up with as many ideas as possible to effectively correct the problem if it does happen. Keep in consideration as you look for solutions to strive for ways that keep you and you employees as well as your business safe.
Next look at the weaknesses your company has. Assess the impact of the weaknesses without a crisis. Then assess the impact of that weakness in a crisis situation. Determine ways to counter those weaknesses in an event, and set up plans to remove the weaknesses permanently if possible. This should help improve business on a regular basis.
Finally look at the strengths of your company. How many of these would you still have in a crisis? Look for activities that build on your strengths and protect them during a crisis.
Building a business continuation plan might seem overwhelming or a waste of your time this year – nothing bad has happened. However waiting until the horse has left the barn is not the best time to decide to put a door on. Plan for the protection of your business before it is threatened.
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