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The UPS Store Small Business Blog
  • 18 May 2020
  • Alex Penfield

How to Prepare Your Business for Disruption

If these past few months have taught us anything, it’s that life—and business—don’t always go as planned, and that being prepared for many types of disruption is important. According to the U.S. Chamber Foundation, research indicates that 43% of small-to-medium businesses fail after a disaster. And while forecasting for every unforeseen interruption is impossible, having a solid “what if” strategy can protect your assets and help keep your business as agile, resilient and disruption-proof as possible.

Whether or not your business had a plan in place prior to the COVID-19 crisis, as businesses begin the re-opening process, now could be a good time to assess your overall disruption preparedness. Below are 5 tips for prepping your business for future crisis mode.

  1. Gather intel: No one knows your business better than you, but it’s important to consider all angles when creating a well-thought-out continuity plan. This will require gathering info from a variety of sources — from employees to customers to vendors — to better formulate the critical strategies your business will need to survive. Examples of important information include emergency contact info, supply chain processes, and critical business operations.

  2. Identify your weak spots: Mining info from the above sources will help you identify both your strengths as well as where your business would most likely struggle in the event of a disruption. These obstacles could range from lack of e-commerce capabilities to supply chain issues and can derail your chances of keeping your doors open during a crisis. Once you know where you are most vulnerable, you can tailor a plan to account for these weaknesses.

    Man working on laptop at desk
  3. Keep it simple: Times of crisis are complicated enough. Remember that the more complex your plan becomes, the less likely it is to be successfully implemented if and when the next crisis strikes. Aim to keep your plan as succinct and simple to understand as possible, focusing on turnkey solutions to your projected obstacles and providing clear direction around responsibilities that makes it easy for you and your employees to jump into action. To aid in your plan formulation, UPS has partnered with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to create Resilience in a Box, a full suite of resources designed to help you survive and thrive in the event of a crisis.

  4. Put it to the test: While a beautifully drawn disruption plan is great, you won’t know how well it truly works without a trial run. Plan a “stress test” that simulates a real-world disruption to assess the effectiveness of the plan and identifies where your strategy may be falling short. This type of hands-on analysis will provide you with lessons that will serve to further strengthen your strategy. Think you’re fully prepared? Take our Business Readiness Quiz to determine how ready your business is for disruption.

  5. Keep it fresh: Just like your small business, your disruption plan should be constantly evolving to maintain relevance and keep up with current events. Be sure to revisit your plan periodically and update your strategy as new information, threats and business changes arise. Think of your contingency plan as a living, breathing entity that should grow and change along with your business needs.

Disruption is never something to look forward to when it comes to the business world, and smaller shops are often the ones hit hardest when disaster strikes. Should you find yourself in that position now or in the future, remember the things that made you a savvy entrepreneur – resilience, self-discipline, creativity and more. Having a plan in place in the event of a crisis can make all the difference. We hope the above tips help you feel prepared and ready for any future disruption that may arise.

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