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Dealing with Uncertainty for Business

By Jon Sawyer on 26/06/2017 - 0 Comments

For this article we are again taking inspiration from the Icon handbook - "Your Business Your Life" This section is more valid than ever: 

There are a myriad of challenges a business can face and these can come completely out of the blue, but will still need to be managed correctly. Such crises may include illness of a key director, fire, loss of information and theft, and each of these may make it impossible to deal with business in the normal manner.

The parallels with political uncertainty are more than apparent as Theresa May tries to work towards a successful conclusion in Brexit talks with a reduced majority. The politicians, nor media did not predict the outcome of the June 2017 election. Instead of strengthening May’s negotiating hand, the results of the election may limit her room for negotiation. As a result she will now work with the UDP to drive through agreed changes into UK law.

Did Theresa May have a plan in place to deal with such a crisis? The answer is probably no!

Instead of crisis management is there a better way to be prepared for whatever markets, competitors, customers or your staff may throw at you. The answer is YES. With good planning it is possible to mitigate against the potential impact of such crises, and may even prevent its occurrence in the first place.

The best approach is to have a guide or plan to deal with each potential crisis. Otherwise, failure to plan may result in potential damage to your brand, reputation risk of loss of sales and market share.

The need for a plan to cover such emergencies is self-evident, and is more than apparent for small business as they may lack the resource to cope easily in such circumstances. The following 4 step process sets out a methodology for dealing with the unexpected in your business.

      1. Identify all the potential events that may affect you and the likelihood of their occurrence

      2. Determine ways in which you can mitigate or avoid these from happening – focus on the priority areas.

      3. With your management team - set out a business continuity plan – an action plan for dealing with such adversity.

      4. Test the plan and put regular checks in place to update.

A classic example of such a crisis is in the event of loss of trading data and was highlighted in the loss of account information earlier this year for HSBC customers. Faced with such an eventuality there should be a back-up plan in place so that trading does not grind to a halt.

One of ICON’s Advisors worked for a timber company that suffered a fire resulting in the loss of the main operational site. In these circumstances an emergency premises was used and all information was backed-up off-site to ensure trading could continue the following day.

Any continuity plan needs to be effectively communicated to all staff to enable them to deal with the crisis more easily, and should be sufficiently resourced, and also tested from time to time. Doing this may even give you an edge over competitors as you may build greater levels of resilience into your company through the continuity plan.

Remember that whilst scenarios such as a major theft, fire, or illness of key staff may be unlikely, it is prudent to start planning for them now.

As Steven Covey (7 Habits of Highly Effective People) would say, start ‘planning with the end in mind’. Build the continuity plan into the fabric of your business and make sure they are fully ‘road tested’.

Start building resilience into your business. If unsure of how to deal with this then get help to put a robust plan in place by giving one of our Advisors at ICON a call.

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