Blog Post / Jan. 13, 2020

Don’t Be Stupid (cough) Like I Was

Written by Claudia Williams

I mean really – how could I be so stupid?

As an entrepreneur and consultant, it’s so easy for me to look at other people’s leadership or business issues and analyze them in 60 seconds. But perhaps I should have taken 60 seconds to analyze my own business issues. Specifically, I should have spent some time analyzing my business risks and planning accordingly. Why? Because I neglected to consider one of the biggest risks to my own business: a computer crash.

Every business has risks. In a recent article in the Central Penn Business Journal (and sister journals in Rochester, NY, and Baltimore, MD), I discussed crisis management and how important it is for every business of every size to spend time planning for things that could hurt business continuity and putting plans in place to minimize the potential damage. (Special thanks to Kevin Oklobzija at BridgeTower Media for contacting me for input).

There are all kinds of business risks.

One of my biggest risks is lost data, which means lost work, which means additional time spent recreating work, and so on. Individuals and businesses risk losing a lot if they don’t plan ahead. You might lose your job. Your warehouse might burn to the ground. Your employees might go on strike. You might experience a data breach or a flood or the death of a key employee or even the CEO. Anything is possible.

Consider a family business, for example. If there is no clear succession plan and the founder and CEO suddenly passes away, the family might find itself in a power struggle to take over the company. While the family is fighting, clients might take their business elsewhere. There might not be a business to lead if the family can’t get it together.

Or maybe you’re the sole breadwinner for your family. What if you’re in an accident and you’re unable to work? Do you have insurance coverage in place to provide an income stream (albeit reduced) so that you can pay your bills until you’re able to work again?

You can minimize your risks.

It might seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. All you need is a day – maybe two. Maybe not even that much! Include a couple of trusted advisers or key leaders. And then:

  1. Brainstorm all of the potential things, events, circumstances that can harm your business.
  2. Be sure to identify and place a value on all types of harm – product loss, brand/reputation harm, facility loss, financial loss, lack of business continuity, and so on.
  3. Rank the list on a sliding scale of things that might be the most harmful to things that would be the least harmful.
  4. Start developing plans to address each scenario and calculate the amount of loss you can minimize. Modify the plans until you have sufficiently minimized the risk.
  5. Run test cases and evaluate your response time and outcomes.

It might seem complicated, but it’s necessary if you want to make sure what you have today is there tomorrow. For me? Well, let’s just say I am now living in the clouds…