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Expect the Unexpected: 10 Steps Small Businesses Need to Take

Running a small business can be incredibly rewarding and challenging in equal measures, so it’s critical to be aware of the risks that come with it. Financial uncertainty, market volatility, and natural disasters are just a few examples of the unexpected hurdles we may face.

One such threat that has become increasingly prevalent is ransomware attacks. Imagine waking up tomorrow to find your business held hostage by malicious hackers. It’s a terrifying thought, but it’s crucial to consider how you would respond in such a situation. Do you have a plan in place?
Statistics show that 60% of small businesses fail within just six months of falling victim to a cyber-attack. This sobering fact emphasises the importance of being prepared. We cannot afford to be complacent and risk the survival of our businesses.
In Britain, businesses also face the risk of natural disasters like flash floods, lightning strikes, hurricanes, fire or even construction workers inadvertently hitting a cable. These events occur, usually without warning, leaving us vulnerable and potentially causing severe damage to our businesses. It’s essential to have a contingency plan to ensure the safety of our employees, protect our assets, and resume operations as quickly as possible.

These are our top 10 tips to implement in your business:


1. Create a Contingency Plan

Develop a comprehensive contingency plan that outlines how your business will respond to different scenarios, such as ransomware attacks or natural disasters. This is one of the most critical steps you can take to minimise the impact of unforeseen events such as natural disasters, supply chain disruptions, or unexpected financial setbacks.
The plan should outline the procedures the business will take in the event of an emergency, including who will be responsible for what tasks. This plan should set out how to communicate with employees, customers, and suppliers and how to get back on track. Remember, in the event of such incidents you may not have access to your computer systems, so it is important to have copies of the document in alternative forms and locations.

2. Maintain Adequate Insurance Coverage

Small businesses should always maintain adequate insurance coverage. This protects them from unexpected events. Insurance policies should include things like:
• Liability coverage
• Property damage coverage
• Business interruption coverage
• Data breach costs
Business interruption coverage is particularly important. It can help cover lost income and expenses during a disruption such as a natural disaster or supply chain disruption.
One of the newer types of policies is cybersecurity liability insurance. In today’s threat landscape, it has become an important consideration. Cybersecurity insurance covers things like costs to remediate a breach and legal expenses. (A word of warning here, be sure to read and understand the small print; these policies typically come with plenty of conditions.)
Be sure to regularly review and update your coverage as your business evolves.

3. Diversify Your Revenue Streams

Small businesses that rely on a single product or service are at greater risk. Unexpected events can cause them significant harm. Something like a raw material shortage could cripple an organisation without alternatives.
Diversifying your revenue streams can help reduce this risk. It ensures that your business has several sources of income. For example, a restaurant can offer catering services. A clothing store can sell merchandise online as well as through its physical shop.


4. Build Strong Relationships with Suppliers

Small businesses should build strong relationships with their suppliers. This ensures that they have a reliable supply chain. This is particularly important for businesses that rely on one supplier for their products. In the event of a disruption, having strong relationships matters. It mitigates the risk of supplier bankruptcy or supply chain issues.


5. Keep Cash Reserves

Small businesses should try to keep cash reserves to help them weather unexpected events. Cash reserves can help cover unexpected expenses. Such as repairs, legal fees, or loss of income. As a rule of thumb, businesses should keep at least six months’ worth of expenses in cash reserves.

6. Build Strong Outsourcing Relationships

If business owners try to do everything in-house, they’re at higher risk. For example, if a key IT team member quits, then the company could face major security issues.
Build strong outsourcing relationships with an IT provider and other critical support services. If something happens to a company’s staff or systems, they have a safety net.

7. Check Your Financials Regularly

Small business owners should check their finances regularly. This is to ensure that they are on track to meet their goals and to identify any potential issues early on.
This includes:
• Tracking income and expenses
• Creating and reviewing financial statements
• Regularly meeting with a financial advisor


8. Invest in Technology

Investing in technology can help small businesses prepare for unexpected events. For example, cloud-based software can help businesses store their data off-site. This ensures that it is safe in the event of a natural disaster or cyber-attack. Technology can also help businesses automate processes. Automation reduces the risk of errors and improves efficiency.


9. Train Employees for Emergencies

Small businesses should train their employees for emergencies. This helps ensure that everyone knows what to do in the event of an unexpected event.
This includes training for natural disasters, cyber-attacks, and other emergencies. Businesses should also have a plan for communicating with employees during an emergency. As well as ensuring that everyone has access to the plan.


10. Stay Up to Date on Regulatory Requirements

Small businesses should stay up to date with regulatory requirements. This helps ensure that they are compliant with all laws and regulations. This includes tax laws, labour laws, and industry-specific regulations. Non-compliance can result in fines, legal fees, and damage to your business’s reputation.

In conclusion, small businesses face many risks. But by following these tips, they can prepare themselves for the unexpected. 

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