I know that I have only just published my usual weekly blog post, but as one of my clients said to me, “we live in interesting times.”
I wanted to quickly put out there what a small business can do in relation to risk management planning the effect of the coronavirus pandemic on their businesses.
But first, let’s get things into perspective.
Do not panic. Do not spread rumours and myths. Do not subscribe to the mob mentality that is now on display in supermarkets across the country. Get your information from trusted medical sources including government health departments and information sites.
However, in these “interesting times” it is prudent to be over-cautious in preparing for how the coronavirus can affect your business, so let’s get into what risk management planning you should be doing.
Let me give you a “checklist” of risk-mitigation procedures and strategies to implement in your small business – no need to give me your email, no need to download – here it is.
(Note: I am not an affiliate of any of the links I have included in this article.)
First of all, let’s clarify the methodology of risk management planning. The process is formulaic: –
- You identify risks to your business;
- You assess those risks by assessing how likely they are to happen and the quantitative effect of it happening;
- You deal with those judged to be most likely and which affects are deemed to be most catastrophic (extreme risk) immediately with clear and defined strategies;
- You then deal with those at “high risk” by extensively managing those risks;
- You then turn to those at medium risk and you monitor but manage as they occur; and
- Finally, you deal with those deemed low risk by accepting those risks and monitoring them.
The important takeaway is that at least for the risks that are seen as extreme and high, you have risk management or mitigation plans ready to take out of the drawer and implement.
Clearly coronavirus is upon us so let’s skip steps 1 and 2. The question is what strategies should you put into place?
These are, I believe, the risks that we all face: –
- That someone in the business has been in contact with someone who may have or has the virus;
- That someone in the business has the virus; and
- That the government has issued an instruction to lock down your area or your city.
The effects of these risks are: –
- You have to close down for a period of time; and
- Your business’ financial situation will deteriorate.
I am not going to deal with the strategies behind the financial deterioration of your business. If you search my blogs, you will find other articles about how to survive a recession and what to do in a business downturn.
Let’s talk about your risk management plan to handle the risk of infection and having to close for a temporary period.
I believe these are the minimum strategies any small business must put into place now: –
- Instigate a personal hygiene policy – all staff must wash their hands every time, in accordance with the guidelines, when they enter the premises from outside, handle mail and packages, and before they handle food or kitchen items;
- Instigate a procedure to clean and disinfect the premises every evening (or first thing in the morning);
- Decide on how you will pay your staff in the event they are unwell (sick leave, annual leave, unpaid leave – in accordance with the relevant legislation of your jurisdiction) and inform them – remember you will want to encourage them to avoid coming to work if they are unwell in case they are thinking of coming to avoid losing their income;
- Instigate a policy that any staff who feel unwell, or who have had contact in the last 14 days with someone travelling from overseas, take time off (until they have recovered or after 14 days in the example of those in contact with overseas travellers);
- Tell all your customers and suppliers, and put up a sign at your front door that thanks them for their understanding but asks that they do not come to your premises if they are unwell or have had contact with someone travelling from overseas in the last 14 days.
You should also consider the following strategies to mitigate risk: –
- Travel policies – should you restrict your staff travelling out of town, and discourage customers/suppliers from out of town visiting you?
- Seminar policies – should you restrict staff attendance at seminars and larger gatherings?
- Meeting policies – should you postpone face to face meetings or encourage web-conferencing?
These are more strategies that you should consider now, and be ready to put into place in the event that someone in the business has been diagnosed with the coronavirus, or when the authorities have declared a period of lockdown: –
- Decide exactly under what circumstances (when) and how you will instruct staff to stay at home;
- Mentally prepare staff for working from home;
- Ensuring staff have the right equipment to be able to work from home – preparing access to computers at home equipped with web cameras and speakers, potentially ensuring staff can access scanners and so on;
- Ensuring you can share and manage projects remotely – ensuring staff can log into office servers or use cloud filing apps, web conferencing apps, project management apps, and so on;
- Ensuring you have scheduled regular team meetings by phone or web conference to let everyone see (or hear) each other, share work, but importantly also to not feel alone and isolated.
If nothing else, the rapidly changing circumstances of this pandemic point to the fact that even the smallest businesses must have risk management plans – contingency plans for when the most likely, potentially catastrophic events take place.
Make sure you consider yours now.
If you want more information about how to grow your business (let’s stay positive!) then please check out my blog at teikoh.com or make sure that you get regular updates and tips and tools sent directly to you.
In (not quite) the words of Mr Spock as adapted to these interesting times, “Stay safe and prosper.”