If you are an entrepreneur, it is safe to assume that maintaining smooth operations on a daily basis is a real challenge. Disruptions come on continually and some of them are situations that are simply beyond your control.

For example, multi-million dollar companies such as Uber and Amazon were not initially bringing in stable incomes for their employees like they do now.

Business continuity preparedness during crisis

Case: Virus Outbreak

Let’s take a virus pandemic, for example. Influenza can become severe in such a way that it impacts the operation of organizations across industries – and more often than not, the damages are all correlated. During a pandemic, there is a possibility for drug shortages for an extended period of time which can greatly impact the operational part of medical institutions. Problems like this begin a domino effect: As medication is scarce, proper treatment is becoming less effective. For businesses, this is bad news.

Absenteeism due to illness skyrockets. Coming late for work is also an issue when public transportation services are suspended due to monumental outbreaks. Those will put your businesses’ short-term plans in jeopardy and pose a threat to your product and service delivery to your clients and consumers when operational and service disruptions occur.

Staff on a sick leave

As you can imagine, the impact of a viral pandemic on the economy is significant. This is why the role of companies like MedsGap is crucial. During shortages, alternative medical suppliers can fill in the gap to ensure that health institutions maintain their operational flow which in effect will also result in less absenteeism.

MedsGap CEO Sim Shain shared five valuable points with me that every entrepreneur should know about maintaining business continuity during an unexpected crisis. Having such a plan and policy requires rigorous planning and tedious thinking. Here are some tips to ensure the level of your business operational during severe disruptions, such as viral outbreaks:

1. Continuity and disaster recovery plan

Shain Sim explains “Without a plan, you’d be lost for sure. Operational disruptions often occur when you least expect them which enhance the severity of the impact when you are faced with them with no knowledge in advance.” “In your plan, you should have someone or a team ready to oversee the operational during the disruption; you should have the ‘what to do’ and ‘who to contact’ lists in it.” It is important to have the major emergency relief help lines on a dependable list to immediately refer to on the onset of a disaster. Proper measures like this are crucial because it puts the business one step ahead of the game, more prepared than before and ready to combat this disaster in a more organized manner.

2. Sustainability guide and policy

It was also discussed that as the business owner, you need to make sure that an operational guide is in place in case disaster strikes. Shain explains, “The benefits of [the policy] is enormous. When things go wrong and your organization is suddenly facing shortage of staff, you need to be able to hire temporary staff members; your operational guide can shorten the learning curve significantly, and this is very important when the service level is at stake.”

In a technologically advanced perspective, it is important to consider the adoption of cloud-based technology which can ensure the accessibility even during power outages. The concept of this is that when a computer is compromised in the event of a natural disaster, hacker, or simple hardware crashes, the documentation for a business is no longer dependent on one specific drive on a computer; it is now based in a “cloud” that can be accessed outside the boundaries of one particular computer. With a simple account, this can be accessed anywhere if your computer stops working.

3. Communication channels

The inability to contact your stakeholders during a viral outbreak magnify the impact of the existing problem. In order to ensure the communication channels, you need to prepare tools like call forwarding, wireless data connection and other crucial measures that can help you and your staff members access your company’s private network securely.

Shain notes, “When an epidemic or natural disaster breaks out, the top hospitals have multiple communication systems set up to ensure that the proper staff members and medications are on hand. In my business, communications is not a matter of convenience, it is a matter of life or death. For an entrepreneur, what may be at stake is a major deal.”

Communication channels can also be between suppliers. The MedsGap CEO explains that “Smart hospitals know who to call when they are facing a shortage. We can help hospitals who call any time, but its best to have the lines of communication already in place. Likewise, smart entrepreneurs set up the lines of communication to their critical businesses before a crisis hits.”

Remote working arrangement for business continuity
photo credit: Citrix Online / Flickr

4. Remote working arrangements

As mentioned above, public transportation closures are not uncommon during outbreaks like an influenza pandemic. Having a remote working policy in place makes it easy for your management team to execute plans and manage staff who are available to work remotely.

“You need to be ready to have your team functional at the office or at home,” Shain explains. “In the medical field, military hospitals operate from established buildings as well as field hospitals on the battlefield. Entrepreneurs should prepare their teams to be able to work in multiple environments.” In retrospect, the idea of being versatile in situations like these are very important when the lives of patients are at stake.

5. Preventive measures

Just like the health advice you often hear, prevention is the best medicine; this holds true for business operations, too. Preventing viral pandemics to occur in your organization is the best business continuity action you can do.

Readers may ask how to avoid disasters like this that are difficult to avoid at times. Shain says, “Emergency medical professionals going into an epidemic zone take precautionary vaccinations. It is much easier to take a vaccine ahead of time than to deal with an illness later. I advise entrepreneurs and executives who are traveling abroad to consult with their doctors about which vaccinations to take. We live in a global economy, and that means global health risks if the right precautionary actions are not taken. You may not be going to an epidemic zone, but if you are flying via major international airports, you may be at much more risk than you realize. Mitigate the risk with precautionary vaccinations.”

Takeaway

Managing a crisis and ensuring business continuity during viral outbreaks, power cuts and other force majeure should be managed well. Just like in business competition, companies that prepare the best will survive and even thrive during tough times. It is crucial to clearly communicate your plan and policy with the entire organization well ahead of time before the chance of a disaster to occur. Remember, poorly-communicated plans will result in poor execution. Make a plan, delegate and you will see flourishing results with a strong, stable and confident workforce.