How to Prepare for a Crisis (Even If It Never Happens)
More than likely, you may never have to deal with a crisis in your business. However, it’s always better to be prepared than having to deal with a crisis with no thought or idea of how to do it. It may seem like a negative to think about this before it happens, but you’ll be glad you did because it’ll make overcoming any crisis much easier and more likely.
Make a List of Potential Crises
For each business owner, this will be slightly different. If you have a home business, you may want to include any type of crisis that would affect your ability to do business, even if it’s not business related.
Create Response Templates for Each Issue
Now that you know the types of crisis that might affect your business, take the time to create a response template for each issue. You may be able to locate templates on MS Office via Word and Excel to help give you some ideas about it. Mainly you want to go through what to do for every single element of each crisis, from PR to physically fixing equipment. Whatever it takes.
Inventory of your Assets
If you don’t even know what you have, it’ll be hard to replace it if disaster strikes. Take pictures of your assets and create an inventory of everything it takes to run your business - from software to physical equipment like smartphones, laptops, and printers. Whatever you have you’ll want to note with a picture, a description, and a copy of the purchase receipt.
Keep All Stakeholders Informed
Know exactly what your plans are for communicating with your stakeholders. Whether they are investors, customers, or they work with you, know how you’ll keep the lines of communication open should a crisis occur.
Don’t forget that continuing to promote your business positively during a crisis is imperative in order to be able to overcome it with a business still intact. Don’t stop your usual promotions (unless you need to due to finances) when something happens.
Whether you’re talking to the press, your customers, or posting on social media about the crisis, be sure to always stay open, honest and transparent. Even the appearance of stonewalling can be a PR nightmare for a small business owner.
Create Backups of Everything
Whether it’s software, or data, or websites... whatever you use for your business needs to stay backed up. You’ll want to have redundant backups of everything so that if one method goes down, you’ll have the other.
Create a Vendor Response List
One document that is important is to know how to contact everyone who works with you, especially vendors. For example, do you know how to call your payment processor if you did not have access to your computer or your smartphone directly? Can you sign in from any computer from anywhere to get a list of your vendors, account information, and so forth so you can deal with it?
Give Power of Attorney to the Right People
What happens to your business and the people you work with if you are not available at all for whatever reason? Is there someone you can give POA to that can work for your business’s benefit if you’re unavailable due to the crisis?
Crisis preparation is key. Take the time to get the information together that you’d need if something happens. That way, you’re ready to take on the problem from day one instead of trying to invent a way at the last minute for dealing with it. Whether the crisis is one of PR or one of a natural disaster, with planning you can ensure you come through it with flying colours.