The Scouts are really on to something

I just presented my latest workshop “You are Your Business” to a group of therapists in Calgary that I am teaching at the American Massage Conference, this May.  The premise of the Workshop is synonymous with the Scout motto always “Be prepared”.  In the workshop the context of the statement “You are Your Business” does not mean that you have to be at work or available to work 24/7, in fact I am a big believer in the importance of working softly, playing often.

In this context “You are Your Business” does mean that you are the visionary and the CCO – the Chief Continuity Officer, taking care to ensure its safe keeping and continued operations.  Like many, I count on my business to bring in 100% of my family income so I realize that while I don’t have to work in my business 24/7 I do need to ensure its longevity and success.

The workshop boils down to some steps that all of us can start to think about then implement.

1)      Business Continuity Plan (BCP).

2)      Business Impact Analysis (BIA)

3)      Business Interruption Recovery Plan (BIRP)

BCP – Know what you do in your business and what it takes to run your business. A BCP manual may be simply a printed manual stored safely away from the primary work location, containing contact info for any staff, accountants, clients, lawyers and vendors along with data backups, banking information, copies of insurance contracts, equipment lists, and any other critical materials necessary for your business to operate.

Once you identify what and who it takes to run your business, you need to figure out what could interrupt your business – your BIA. You need to identify critical functions the business performs to stay in business (make money, provide services etc), identify the risks to critical business functions, rates those risks, and rate the risks according to probability of occurrence and impact on the business. Once you figure out the risks you can look at avoidance, mitigation, or absorption of the risk, and scenario planning.  When known in advance, these risks can be avoided or their impacts reduced more effectively than if similar real-life problems were considered under duress of an emergency.

Once you know what your business is, what can impact or interrupt it, then you can create your BIRP.  Simply take each of the risks on your list and create an action plan for each risk should it occur.  Be sure to test your plan and review it once in a while too.

A quick example for you:  Lets say you work at home and identify that there may be a risk for one of the water pipes that runs over the massage room to burst, causing a flood that would destroy your equipment and put you out of business while you work with the insurance company to get it fixed. Maybe you would be out of work for 4 – 6 weeks.  That would have a huge impact on your income and your clients.  So, you know you have a risk, you believe it’s a low probability, but it’s still an identified risk.  So you could arrange in advance with a friend who is a clinic owner, that in case of an emergency where you can’t work out of your home that you can rent some space temporarily while your massage room is being fixed.  Be sure to negotiate an agreement in advance so it’s a seamless transition should an emergency arise. Now you are all set up in case your business in interrupted by a flood. Do this type of planning for each risk.

This is a super quick and simplified version of a detailed workshop, but it captures the essence of how we can plan for the unexpected.  I think it so important for all of us to start thinking about this as business owners regardless of if we work for someone else (maybe they might have a flood in their office – then what happens to your income) or we have our own practices. Have you got a plan in place now? I would love to hear your experiences.



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