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17 Jan 2019

It Won’t Happen to My Business!

This has always puzzled me. Talking about disasters in general, we all know they do happen to some people, so why do we all say it won’t happen to me? Even if we aren’t saying that, we’re usually ignoring the problem instead.

Business disaster

Are you always firefighting in your business?

“It won’t happen to me” is a bizarrely common attitude. I’ve found it’s even more prevalent in business. That’s odd because it’s often more likely to happen and the results are more serious. Hackers and fraudsters are drawn to small and medium businesses because they’re comparatively easy targets. Staff sickness and other absences (or the dreaded resignation) are much bigger problems when you’ve got less staff to start with. Small and medium businesses are often also more vulnerable to “acts of god” because they don’t often have the protections in place to cope.

Of course, we’re talking about disaster recovery and contingency planning. These are often very low on a business owner’s to do list, for the same reason people believe it won’t happen to them. It’s a simple case of immediacy. I can see a pile of paperwork and four unread emails; these are real and immediate, so they stay front of mind. My office space catching fire is a distant possibility.

In contrast, if my office space was on fire, I’d forget about paperwork and unread emails pretty quickly.

Similarly, John has client meetings, so it’s a problem when he calls in sick, but it’s only a problem when he actually calls in sick. It’s a disaster for that day, and then forgotten the next day when it’s back to business as usual. But, of course, if John being sick causes an issue, then the problem is always there.

It needs to be addressed and planned for.

The impact is the important thing. A full inbox is an immediate issue, but most of those emails could wait a day. If your office space burns down, can your business keep going? If so, how quickly?

I think sometimes it’s a case that we don’t recognise the problem or possibility. Sometimes we don’t realise the impact it could have. I think the crux of it is that we only consider two options: “It won’t happen to me” and the opposite “it will happen to me”. Both are extremes, and like most extreme viewpoints, a bit silly, but there’s a middle ground.

It could happen to me.

That’s the sensible and truthful position to act from. Recognise that, identify the things that could happen to your business, and take steps to protect your business. You don’t have to plan for every eventuality but look for the broad strokes. What happens if I can’t access my premises? What happens if my computer breaks down? What happens if I lose my phone?

If you ignore the problem or think it won’t happen to me, then you’re just increasing the chances that it will.

If it seems like overkill to plan for these hypotheticals, consider crossing the road. Most times, there’s a very low chance of being hit by a car, but you’re still going to look both ways. The possibility of being hit by a car has been drilled into you your whole life. In other words, you believe that it could happen to you.

Your business is no different. You want to get it to the other side of the road safely. Trust me, there are plenty of cars to think about.

Best wishes

Jacqui

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Jacqui Frost

Jacqui Frost

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