The past 12 months have proven that in business as in life, there will always be factors out of our control. That’s why it’s important to put measures in place to manage the factors that you are in control of.
Many businesses have recently been given some strong lessons in where their vulnerabilities lie. Even if your business came through 2020 relatively unscathed it’s now a good time to think about these areas and put some measures in place to become more robust. While it can be difficult to protect your business against all of the potential unknowns out there, let’s look at some common risks and business weaknesses that you can address.
Disaster recovery plan
A disaster recovery plan (DRP) helps keep your business afloat and functioning well despite an emergency – whether it be through an information security risk, the loss of assets from a natural disaster such as bushfires, or even human error, such as deleting data.
These plans are quite often developed in the early days of a business and then kept in a drawer, only to be forgotten about in the day to day running of the business. While you shouldn’t need to consult the plan on a regular basis, it pays to re-familiarise yourself with it and if you don’t have one at all, now is the time to make one!
Interruptions to supply
Another area to investigate is your relationship with your suppliers. Are you reliant on particular suppliers or contractors? If so, you’re open to risk. What would happen if they are no longer able to supply to you because they cease their current services or their business folds?
Perhaps geographical instability or supply chain uncertainty could affect your supplier or contractor. The Global Supply Chain Risk Report found that increasingly buyer relationships are with suppliers located in high-risk countries.i
Assess and develop redundancies to ensure the continuation of a quality supply of the product or service. Figuring this out before an issue arises will mean you have options, should the situation unfortunately rise.
You know your business back to front, but put yourself in the shoes of your customer. How do they access information about your business, where do they go for help and what potential roadblocks do they face in securing your services?
It’s worth testing every touch point your client makes with your business. Doing so will give you valuable insight into what their customer journey is like, whether it’s experienced in person, online, through support, accounts and day to day.
Mystery shoppers, a service often provided by market research organisations, are trained to report on what they find when doing an ‘audit’ of a business. You don’t necessarily need to hire a research company, a family member, friend or acquaintance could undertake the process. Perhaps they walked into the reception of your office and were ignored by your receptionist, or they had the door held open for them and were offered a friendly greeting. They may have had issues navigating your website or were left hanging on the phone for a long time. Their perspectives, as people with no vested interest in your organisation, are incredibly valuable.
Don’t just focus on the external ‘face’ of your business though – you also should ensure that internal systems and intellectual property are protected. This has become increasingly difficult as the traditional work paradigm moves to remote work and flexible work arrangements. Penetration testing, or a pen test is where a simulated ‘cyberattack’ is performed so any weaknesses can be detected. Through this test you’ll find out how vulnerable your systems are to unauthorised hacks.
This preventative measure can save your business by establishing and strengthening security measures which ensure your continued service online, workflow within the business and client data management.
Reviewing where you are vulnerable and assessing which aspects of your business or processes can be improved is a worthwhile task for any business. Knowledge is power and identifying your weaknesses gives you the opportunity to address them and build a stronger foundation for business growth and success.
Stuart Fitzpatrick and Excel Financial Advisors Pty Ltd are authorised representatives of Interprac Financial Planning Pty Ltd AFSL 246638 registered office at Level 8, 525 Finders Street, Melbourne VIC 3000. This advice may not be suitable to you because it contains general advice that has not been tailored to your personal circumstances. Please seek personal financial advice prior to acting on this information. Investment Performance: Past performance is not a reliable guide to future returns as future returns may differ from and be more or less volatile than past returns.