It is unfortunate that many startup businesses fail during their first year of operation and many during their second and subsequent years of operation. While there are various reasons for this, one reason that is mostly overlooked is Business Continuity Planning (BCP).

There are many misconceptions about BCP, especially for startups. Some of these misconceptions are “BCP is expensive”, “BCP is only for large organisations”, “I don’t have time for BCP”, “We will know what to do when a disaster strikes”, and “All our systems are on the Cloud and are protected”.

To operate any business, startup or otherwise, you will need people, premises, information, systems, and suppliers and partners. People are your employees who carry out all the tasks. Premises are where you operate from (an office or from home). Information is what you capture, store and process – for record keeping and to help you make informed business decisions. Systems are the technologies and your business processes. Suppliers and Partners are other businesses who are critical to your business and without whom you cannot operate, e.g. telecom and Internet service providers, Cloud service providers, building maintenance service providers, perhaps marketing and public relations companies, etc.

When a disaster strikes any, most or all of your 5 types of resources could be negatively impacted – people may go sick or unable to perform their duties, for example during a pandemic; premises could be destroyed, inaccessible or uninhabitable due to fire or flooding; information may be damaged or lost due to cyberattacks; systems and technologies could drastically fail; and suppliers and partners could be facing their own disaster situation and may not be able to attend to your needs or they may have suddenly gone out of business.

The lack of BCP could be a lot more expensive than the cost of developing one – in fact as expensive as a closed down of your business. BCP can be performed by any startup without any, or a minimum amount of out-of-pocket costs. It is all about a well-documented, well-planned, and regularly tested set of processes to be efficiently carried out to ensure that the 5 important resources (people, premises, information, systems, and suppliers and partners) are catered for and are adequately available during a disaster to enable at least the critical business services to continue.

Any organization is vulnerable to failure. While larger well-established organisations could be hit hard and still be able to recover – though inefficiently and at high costs – startups on the other hand can easily get wiped out completely without a well-planned, well-documented and tested Business Continuity Plan.

BCP is an integral part of any business. It is not a project that once completed you can forget about. It is a critical and ongoing process with daily tasks to be performed like any other business process. Ignoring these tasks will risk the complete failure of your business.

During a disaster even the best employees will not be able to remember what exactly to do to recover the business quickly and efficiently. Each employee may think and act differently which will cause further confusion and add to the chaos already at hand. A well-documented and tested plan will ensure that all employees will know how to react, what to do and in a coordinated manner, speeding up the recovery and allowing the business to continue operating.

While systems on the Cloud may be protected by the service providers you will need to ensure that they are trusted and reliable and who have well-established BCP systems in place. This will, however, only provide you the recovery of your systems and information – what is known as Disaster Recovery (DR), a term that is unfortunately used interchangeably with Business Continuity, though they are different – DR planning (DRP) is only a part of BCP. The Cloud’s DRP will not help you recover your other 3 resources, i.e. people, premises, and suppliers and partners, and therefore the continuity of your business. The availability of alternative means of access to the Cloud systems will ensure you a quick means of accessing them during a disaster.
It is vital that your startup business incorporates plans from the beginning to establish and nurture a culture of resilience and business continuity. If you don’t have the time or the expertise to develop these plans them outsource it to experts but do incorporate the ongoing BCP tasks in your daily routines. BCP will help you reduce the likelihood of certain failures and will prepare you to reduce the impact on your business operations should a disaster strike. Remember, you need to consider all your 5 resources – people, premises, information, systems, and suppliers and partners.

Mohammed Shafie

Mohammed Shafie

Mohammed Shafiee is a Senior IT Management Consultant with over 40 years of IT experience specialising in Business Continuity Planning, IT Service Management and IT Governance.