Families are advised to prepare for emergencies, natural disasters and major hazards, and as a small business owner, you should do the same for your business to ensure continuity of operations.
May 5-11, 2019, was National Small Business Week, a time to recognize and award outstanding small business owners. During this time, consider whether your business is prepared should any of these catastrophic incidents happen:
- Natural disasters, such as earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes and wildfires
- Health hazards, such as disease outbreaks or pandemic flu
- Man-made emergencies, such as accidents and acts of terrorism
- Technology breakdowns, such as power failures and equipment malfunctions
Visit the U.S. Small Business Administration website for more information about National Small Business Week.
Planning for Continuity of Operations
Federal departments and agencies are required to develop continuity of operations (COOP) programs, and what applies to them can also be used for a small business. While you can’t predict the outcome of a catastrophic incident, having an established COOP program ready to activate can help minimize disruptions to your business.
COOP programs are designed to keep essential functions operational during sudden and devastating emergencies, such as natural disasters, terrorist attacks, hazardous material spills, etc. These programs provide direction in responding to emergencies, which enables you to reduce disruptions and keep your business operating during unstable conditions.
Being prepared to continue operations allows organizations to:
- Reduce loss of life and minimize damage to and loss of critical processes and information.
- Provide for a succession of leadership to perform necessary duties when regular leadership is suspended.
- Reduce or prevent disruptions to operations.
- Protect facilities, infrastructure, equipment, records and other necessary assets.
- Recover from an emergency in a timely and orderly manner, and resume full services.
COOP planning is good business practice that demonstrates responsible and reliable administration.
COOP programs are structured and formed according to continuity plans, which are influenced by and based on an organization’s susceptibility to risk and ability to fund continuity efforts.
There are four aspects of a continuity foundation:
- Plans and procedures: Instructions to help guide leadership and personnel during a crisis.
- Risk management: Assessment of the workplace and its practices to identify, prepare for and minimize the impact of hazards.
- Budgeting and resource allocation: Management of funds and resources to adequately support continuity activities.
- Operational phases: Staged approach to help guide implementation of the continuity plan during the various phases of response to an incident.
Building and Facilitating COOP
You can prepare the response to emergency situations for your business by developing and maintaining a COOP program that identifies, guides, coordinates and allocates the people, communications, facilities, infrastructure, transportation and funding needed to support continuity operations.
Each business will coordinate and manage its COOP program differently (according to its own unique circumstances). In general, though, COOP operational and implementation processes will follow the same flow of phases.
Phase I, Readiness and Preparedness: Activities are planned, assessed and practiced before an emergency.
Phase II, Activation and Relocation: This phase covers the period just after the disaster has occurred through the first 12 hours.
Phase III, Continuity Operations: This phase covers the period from 12 hours up to 30 days after activation while essential functions are being conducted from alternate facilities.
Phase IV, Reconstitution: The restructuring of normal operations is initiated immediately after an emergency event concludes.
Find out about disaster planning for your business at Ready.gov.
For more information on various preparedness and response topics, browse the QuickSeries® library of guides, including Planning for Continuity of Operations.