How to Prepare Your Small Business for the Unexpected

Running a small business is never easy, but keeping one running while dealing with unforeseen emergencies can seem impossible.

To see your small business through the unforeseen, you need to lay the right groundwork. Read on to learn how to prepare your company for the unexpected.


Employee Relations

A small business does not have the benefit of large scale operations, or a lot of savings, or name recognition, which is of course why small businesses are so much more vulnerable to disasters than big businesses are.

The best thing you can do to prepare your small business for the unexpected is to forge and maintain strong employee relations. Your employees form the public face of your business, and it is they who do the most to determine what your customers’ experiences are like. When times get tough, it is your employees who will either go the extra mile for you or just phone it in until they can find a better job somewhere else.

During hard economic times, you need your employees to give superb customer service. You might need them to work with reduced hours, pay, or benefits. The only way they will do any of these things is if you have a good relationship with them. If you want them to be there for you during the bad times, you need to earn their trust.

Always take the time to update them on how the business is going and what they can expect in the future. Doing so will help them develop a sense of security at your company. Also, you should help your employees whenever you can by giving them time off for emergencies or switching a shift at need. This demonstrates that you will look out for your employees, and it will make them feel like they want to look after you too.

When times get tough, your employees will want to stay with your company because know they can trust you. Because they want your company to succeed, they will work harder to make it succeed. Their efforts could easily make the difference between success and failure.


Make a Rainy Day Fund

No matter how small your business is, you need to make a rainy day fund for it and regularly add to that fund. Ideally, you should set up a savings account and deposit a little money into it every month, no matter how tight your budget gets.

At the very least you should have a jar that you put all your change into. When your business has a rainy day fund, you will have the resources ready to deal with the unexpected when it happens.


Hold Foresight Meetings

No matter how clever and experienced you are, you can’t foresee everything that could happen. By holding quarterly foresight meetings, though, you can come as close as humanly possible. These meetings are opportunities for you to try to figure out what is probably going to happen to your business in the near future. They let you make contingency plans for likely events, and even some of the unlikely events. They make your company able to more quickly and effectively respond to the unforeseen.

You need employee representatives at these meetings, as well as advisers you can trust and some professionals who work in your industry but who are not part of your business. It might not be a bad idea to have your lawyer and accountant present as well. This mix of people makes sure that you have a good range of opinions and skill sets that should help you develop a good picture of what is happening in your business and in your industry.

These meetings should be times for speculation. Try to identify likely near term trends in your industry as a whole, and even across the country. Try to figure out how these trends could affect your business and whether or not your business is positioned to cope with them. Make whatever plans you can for dealing with each of the contingencies you identify.

Remember that the demand cycle always lags behind supply disruptions. When you are aware of the trends that can affect your industry, you can spot how trouble elsewhere in your industry will come to affect consumer demand for your products or services before anything happens. This advance knowledge will let you shift resources and marketing efforts to be ready for the change in demand when it happens.


The Takeaway

To prepare your small business for the unforeseen, you need to have dedicated resources standing ready to cope with it. Developing good employee relations and setting up a rainy day fund will make sure you have these resources.

Keep in contact with your business law attorney and make sure he or she is aware of any legal situations your business may be facing. Contingency planning will make sure that you and your company know how to use these resources when and if the time comes. Take these three steps and your small business will be well protected against unexpected problems.

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