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Five Tips to Starting a Business Continuity Program

According to a recent article by Tim Bonno, a business continuity and emergency management expert, small businesses should take a simple approach to business continuity. Bonno advocates avoiding cumbersome BC plans due to limited resources often available to smaller companies.

Bonno also produces two highly popular conferences in the St. Louis, Missouri, area. The “Earthquakes Mean Business” seminar addresses earthquake risks in the Midwest United States, and “PREPARE AMERICA,” helps citizens understand disaster risks and how they can become better prepared.

Here are five simple steps to business continuity that any small business can follow:

1. Keep it simple, and use common sense.

Document the things that can have a negative impact on your business. “Challenge yourself now to make your business more resilient when it’s really needed ... leverage opportunities that allow us to use efficiencies gained from an ‘all-hazards’ approach to planning.”

2. Include experts.

Seek out those experts and decision makers. Also, identify at least one back-up for each person listed on the team. Compile a list of contact information and share it with the team. Then explain your notification process to the team. “For smaller groups, a simple call tree is sufficient.”

3. Document, Document, Document.

Documentation is extremely critical in business continuity. Identify and document the critical functions your business performs in order to conduct business. Consider where you’ll conduct your business in case you aren’t able to resume operations at your regular site. Consider your insurance options at this time as well.

“When I’m writing (documenting) plans, I like to use checklists or flowcharts, because they are so much easier to work with compared to narrative type documentation,” Bonno said.

4. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate.

Talk to others and look for opportunities to share information. Also, keep other key stakeholders (customers, employees, suppliers, etc.) informed of your progress. “Also, make sure you and your essential team knows how to use the various communications technologies you have in order to communicate effectively under pressure.”

5. Promote training and awareness.

Adequately train your employees so that when an emergency occurs, they have the knowledge and skills necessary to help your business recover as quickly as possible.

For more information about simple steps to implementing a business continuity program, visit Tim Bonno’s blog at: http://timbonno.wordpress.com/2011/07/01/five-simple-suggestions-to-starting-business-continuity/