This article was published as part of the Denver Business Journal Leadership Trust, an invitation-only network of influential business leaders, experts, executives and entrepreneurs.
If you had told me at the end of the year that the government would shut down nearly every business for weeks, I would have told you to go clear your head for a long time. I don’t think that any of us saw the COVID-19 disruption coming, and we clearly didn’t expect the recent outcomes. As a business owner, this has certainly been a wake-up call for me. I’ve been taking the necessary steps to keep my company solvent in addition to calming nervous team members, clients and business partners. I’m getting comfortable working at home with my spouse, as well as reflecting on ways to ensure we are prepared for unexpected business disruption.
Here are some suggestions I’ve come up with that might help you too:
1. Watch for single points of failure
When a business is young, growing and moving fast, it’s natural for your team members to acquire skills, knowledge, customer relationships and a library of information that only they have access to. Keep your eyes open for these gaps. If a customer relationship is owned by a single person in your organization, then you are at risk. If documents are kept on a laptop and not backed up, or the license key to the CRM is in someone’s Google Drive, you have a single point of failure. Doing a quarterly audit can help you identify and address these risks. Make a checklist, and run through it.
2. Document critical business processes
We have an agreed-upon cycle for reviewing and updating our position playbooks. These documents contain step-by-step instructions for each particular role. Every screenshot, click, report, search criterion and helpful hint is carefully documented and organized for our reference. We’ve been hair-on-fire busy this past year, and now that we have some slack time, we’ve decided to review and update these playbooks. Since we haven’t kept up with a timely review cycle, and because we are a small, growing company, there is a bunch of work to do. My lesson here is to review the playbooks quarterly so that updating doesn’t become such a huge effort.
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