Last updated Apr 03, 2024 and written by Tom Richardson

How To Prepare Your Business for the Unexpected

“Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.” It’s a saying we’ve all heard at one time or another, and depending on your disposition, it either sounds terribly pessimistic or fairly even-handed. 

Whichever side of the fence you find yourself, however, those words hit a little harder here in 2020. Millions of people went into the new calendar year hoping that this year would be the one – the one where their self-employed dream came true, where their business took off, where they achieved their growth goals. How naïve we were.

We soon found ourselves collectively sucker-punched by COVID-19, national lockdowns, and financial uncertainties we couldn’t have imagined in December of last year. At this stage, you’d probably be a little foolish to rule out an alien invasion or a zombie apocalypse in 2021.

So, here we stand, hoping for the best as we deal with the worst – but what if we didn’t have to simply “deal” with things when they went wrong? What if we could take steps to disaster-proof our businesses? Well, we can, and here’s how.

COVID-19: What support is available?

Let’s start with the topic of the day: coronavirus. The pandemic has dealt a heavy blow to the financial health of the entire economy, including to the self-employed.

Since the UK was placed into lockdown back in March, we’ve been maintaining a comprehensive COVID-19 Hub, filled with all the latest news and information from the government’s various announcements and support packages. We’d recommend bookmarking it for future reference.

At the time of writing, the latest developments include Chancellor Rishi Sunak announcing his Winter Economy Plan, and the new Job Support Scheme as well as an extension to the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme for those who are eligible. You may also be able to get a business loan on very favourable terms using the Coronavirus Bounce Back Loan Scheme, although you’ll need to be quick, as the loan scheme closes in late November.

Make sure you’re insured

Business insurance is the first stop on the road disaster-proofing your business. Today it’s a pandemic, tomorrow it could be an error that leads to a costly mistake for a client, and if it is, you need to make sure you’re correctly covered. 

Some important types of Small Business Insurance you want to consider include Public liability Insurance, Employers’ Liability Insurance, and Professional Indemnity Insurance. You can find out more about all of these and more in our free “Business Insurance” guide. You might even want to consider the various types of Life cover including, Life insurance,  Income Protection Insurance, Critical illness cover and more to help protect your family, business, mortgage, or yourself against illness or unexpected events. We sure did say “insurance” a lot there, didn’t we?

Create a Business Continuity Plan

Business insurance can help cover the costs of getting your business back in operation after a catastrophe, but it won’t be much help if all your customers have switched to other suppliers in the two weeks it took you to re-open your office. You also need to plan for your business operations to continue (even in a vastly reduced capacity) if, for example:

  • Your office burns down
  • You have a catastrophic loss of data (e.g. you don’t back up your work and you lose your laptop with months of client work on it)
  • Heavy snow, floods or other adverse conditions mean you or your employees can’t get to your office
  • A key member of staff is suddenly unable to work.

Many businesses are effectively location independent nowadays, so adverse weather isn’t as much of a challenge as it was historically. Similarly, data loss isn’t the huge risk it used to be now that most company email and storage is hosted by Google, Microsoft, Amazon or other providers who look after data on our behalf. Even so, a business continuity plan is essential as your business grows – and if the worst should happen, it could very realistically save your firm from going under.

We’ve put together a handy template if you’re putting together your own business continuity plan, based on the actual business continuity plan we use here at Crunch. You can also read more about what to include in a Business Continuity Plan in our jargon-free Knowledge article!