I was sitting in a board meeting in the conference room of a light manufacturing business a couple of weeks ago when it happened. Right smack in the middle of a discussion on strategic vision, the blare of a fire alarm pierced throughout the two-story building. The owner of the business, who had been seated across from me at the board table, immediately sprang up and began directing the traffic of staff and visitors out of the building. I left my bag, phone, and laptop behind as I made my way to the designated safe spot in the parking lot. I am not entirely sure what triggered the alarm but suffice to say fire engines and paramedics arrived at the scene in breakneck speed. Good news, everything turned out okay. Better news, the business had successfully implemented an emergency evacuation which had previously been outlined in its Business Continuity Plan.
All this got me thinking.
I couldn’t remember the last time I was in a fire drill. As I and my fellow evacuees stood there shivering in the cold that day, I asked the other board members when the last time was that they took part in a fire drill. Nobody could remember. This might come as a bit of a shock, particularly for those of us in Colorado who witnessed the devastating Marshall Fire that seemingly sprang from nowhere and leveled homes and businesses in the northwestern Denver Metro on New Year’s Eve Day 2021.
Indeed, if the last couple of years have taught us anything, it is that the world can turn on a dime, the walls can come crashing down at a moment’s notice, and that business as usual is more of a luxury than a given.
Yes, it has been a rough few years. However, now that industry and the world seem to finally be recalibrating to a post-pandemic dynamic, it is time to reflect on what we as business owners have learned about the importance of fortifying our businesses, mitigating risks, and protecting the people who work for us. With everything we have witnessed and learned since the beginning of COVID and civil unrest throughout the country, we are equipped with a fundamental firsthand knowledge of what it takes to keep a business running in the worst of times – insight that we would likely have never gleaned from a book or manual.
As a business owner it is time to leverage what you and your team have learned since 2020 and create your own Business Continuity Plan, also knows as a BCP.
Business Continuity Planning is the process of designing prevention and recovery systems, as well as action protocols, that address potential threats to a company and allow for continued operations in the face of such adversity.
A Business Continuity Plan differs from Disaster Recovery efforts in that it acts as a proactive, predetermined guide to the processes, procedures, and accountability related to any number of unique threat scenarios. So instead of trying to clean up a mess, so to speak, Business Continuity is more concerned with keeping the lights on, mitigating the damages, and ensuring that everybody remains safe. Keep in mind, while business insurance is important, it is not a first line of defense.
So, business owners, I urge you to start thinking about what you have learned about running your company throughout our recent crises. What went right? What went wrong? For now, just make a list. Then stay tuned as we delve deeper into the topic and give you some insight you need to start building your own Business Continuity Plan.
This is the first article in our series on Business Continuity Planning. In our next post we will cover some of the foundational elements of a BCP and how you can start designing one for your business.
Blair Koch is the Owner and CEO of TAB Denver West, a TAB CEO Advisory Board Facilitator, and a Business Ownership Lifecycle Coach. Blair has spent most of her career helping small business owners achieve their personal and professional goals. She also hosts the Best Businesses in Denver podcast.