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Friday, August 30, 2019

5 Misconceptions People Have About Business Continuity

We all hold misconceptions about a lot of different things, like thinking fortune cookies are Chinese (they were invented in Japan), Vikings wore horns on their helmets (they didn’t—the horns initially came from a popular opera scene), or that buying a fancy new driver will add 30 extra yards to your golf game (it won’t). While these misconceptions are harmless, faulty information or logic as it relates to your business’s disaster preparedness can be devastating. And disasters aren’t just events worthy of making the news. Relatively common occurrences like power outages, hardware failure, software corruption, and cyberattacks can sink your business if a business continuity plan isn’t in place. 

So first, let’s define “business continuity” a little. Business continuity (or “BC,” as the cool kids might say) refers to initiatives that maintain or quickly resume operations in the event of an outage or disaster. They typically make up part of a plan that lays out detailed instructions for employees—so basically, an “in case of emergency” playbook. Your playbook should be made up of three key elements.

  • Resilience: the ability of your mission-critical business functions and their framework to be “materially unaffected” by disruptions (aka, the ability to keep things as you left them).
  • Recovery: the restoration of business functions that fail.
  • Contingency: the preparation for coping with an outage, particularly if the resilience and recovery arrangements fail (that is, when something really bad happens, you will know what to do next). 

If most or all of this sounds Greek to you, don’t be too hard on yourself; about half of all SMBs are operating without a business continuity plan. So why do so many businesses take that gamble? Well, unfortunately, many business leaders hold these common misconceptions we would like to clear up: 

Misconception #1: “Bad things won’t happen to my business.”

Many growing businesses believe that by nature of their more modest size and scope, unfortunate events will skip over them and only affect the bigger guys. But catastrophes don’t discriminate based on business size, and when it comes to hackers—just like not every thief plans a heist on Fort Knox—not every cyber thief is after an enterprise-class victim. Small-to-midsize businesses are often bigger targets because they are still rich in data and often less secured.

Misconception #2: “We can handle some unscheduled downtime.”

Sure, your employees are jack-of-many-trades rock stars who can whip up an espresso just as easily as a sales report, but don’t expect them to know what to do during a crisis. People respond to emergencies in different ways; so for the sake of everyone, it’s important that you put a plan in place for employees to fall back on. Without proper coordination and an effective data recovery plan, business downtime can quickly reach a critical level. 80% of businesses affected by a major incident either never reopen or close within 18 months.

Misconception #3: “We don’t have the time or resources to build a BC plan, man.”

All business leaders know that you can’t have everything on the company wish list, but the ability to restart operations after an unforeseen event is less of a nice-to-have and more of a we-darn-sure-better-have. It’s also important to remember that putting in the time and money to build a contingency plan will help you bounce back faster after a disaster­, reducing revenue loss. The rise of cloud services and mobile technologies have brought forth a whole new world of business continuity benefits at prices growing businesses can afford (Unified Communications as a Service, online backup and data storage solutions and wireless internet backup, just to name a few.)

Misconception #4: “Insurance will cover it.”

Unless of course they can’t, won’t or don’t. While insurance can award you financial reimbursements if you meet certain criteria and policy conditions, it won’t prevent outages or give you back lost data or correct a damaged brand reputation. When it comes to running a business and servicing customers, there are too many indirect losses for any policy to fully cover. 

Misconception #5: “BC is the same thing as DR, and I’ve already got that.”

It may sound like semantics, but when we’re talking about the longevity of your business, the details matter. Disaster recovery should be part of your business continuity plan but may be insufficient on its own. While disaster recovery is reactive, business continuity is proactive. Disaster recovery often homes in on business operations (typically IT), but business continuity takes a more comprehensive approach. DR is a play in your BC playbook, which will ultimately get your entire business back on track.

The More You Know…

Now that we’ve cleared the air on some common business misconceptions, the next step is to take action. Evaluate any current protocols you have in place and, where needed, consult a professional or managed solutions provider to coach you through it all. Stay safe out there.