Without getting into the area of reputation damage, product failure or an employee stealing your clients from you, there are broadly speaking five areas to be aware of that could badly affect your business. And they are all based around some kind of impact to your premises.
Even if you run a home-based business, some of these could affect you. In fact, in many respects they could hit you harder – if you lose your home and business premises in a single incident, your life will be harder to get back on track.
Business Continuity Management (BCM) involves anticipating problems that could affect the normal day-to-day business, and having a plan in place to deal with them. So here is Bytestart’s review of five of the most dangerous business killers, and what you can do to prevent them from bringing down your business.
Perhaps the single most devastating event that can affect a business is a fire. Even small fires can have a widely destructive effect, because of the wide reach of toxic smoke and the water damage inflicted putting the fire out. This category also includes other destructive forces such as lightning, or a vehicle striking your building.
You must always ensure you have a very adequate contents insurance policy to protect your business. If you work from home make sure you tell your insurer so your business contents are covered.
Don’t underestimate the costs of starting again and buying all new furniture and computers from scratch. If you hold stock that also needs to be protected. Of course, protecting your business from fire is easy and heavily regulated by law.
Your business premises will need to have a working and regularly serviced fire alarm, plus adequate fire extinguishers, and a fire safety plan. This isn’t an area where you can cut corners; you really must rely on the experts.
While seeming to be less destructive than fire, floods have a devastating long-term effect on buildings.
Flood water is dirty and often mixed with raw sewage, so getting a building back on its feet after a flood is more than just making everywhere dry. It also involves a very deep clean by specialised teams and complete replacement of fixtures and fittings in affected rooms.
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Floods can also have damaging effects days after the initial water has entered the building, as damp can take a grip and move upwards many floors. So even if your business is on the third floor, you may find your business is disrupted a few days after the ground floor has been flooded.
Get guidance on whether your business is likely to be affected by floods from the Environment Agency.
There are plenty of portable flood barriers which can be purchased online in advance of a crisis and used to protect buildings by stopping the water from entering through the door. Don’t bother with sandbags as they are not as effective and some experts believe that once wet with dirty water they can harbour very dangerous bacteria.
One final thing to bear in mind with a flood is if your home and business are in the same area, in the event of a flood you are more likely to spend time protecting your home. It’s human nature to do this. But that means the long-term effects of flooding could be more severe at your business premises as you will be spending less time minimising the initial impact.
As we all know, many businesses are targeted by thieves, if only because sometimes there is a lot of valuable cash, stock or IT equipment on site they’d like to get their hands on. Prevention is easy in the form of a burglar alarm. Ensure it is a monitored one. That means if it goes off a control centre will be alerted and take responsibility for contacting you and the police.
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You could also get a security company to survey your premises and look for weak points that would benefit from extra measures, such as bars over windows. In your plans against theft consider the time it will take to deal with smashed doors and windows, as well as the possible consequences of customer data being stolen.
It is said that eight out of ten businesses that lose all of their data go out of business within 12 months. No wonder. We live in the information age, where data is everything. If your business has its data stolen or destroyed, you need to be confident there is a safe copy somewhere.
No matter how small your business you will benefit from online data backup. It is highly cost effective. All your computers or server can be set to automatically back themselves up over the internet at frequent intervals (normally at the end of each day).
Not needing human intervention means no-one can forget to do the backup or accidentally leave the backup discs at work. In the event of a crisis, there is a security-protected copy of your data sat on a server somewhere else in the UK, and you just need to copy it back to your new computers.
The best data backup companies also take a copy of all backed-up data and store it somewhere else. So even if their data centre and your building oddly burnt down on the same night, there would still be another copy.
In some respects this can be scarier than your premises being damaged by accident. A bad employee or member of the public can cause a lot of damage to your building without a huge amount of effort. Worse, an employee can do a lot of data damage, or steal money and assets from you.
One of the best ways to prevent this is install CCTV monitoring, with the images monitored by a control centre for you, or recorded offsite. This may act as a deterrent to the public. And even if you have a small team of employees that you trust, it’s better to catch any bad egg before they can do any real damage. People who have nothing to hide rarely object to CCTV being used, as long as the business is open and honest about it.