A Post First-Wave Planner for Small Businesses
Ordinarily, a crisis planner of this type would be written start to finish, allowing you to plan for and navigate through a crisis that disrupts your business operations.
But given that the actual crisis – COVID-19 – is affecting us now and for the foreseeable future, we are starting with the Post-Pandemic period, the time when business returns to a “new normal” and the economy can catch its collective breath, if even for a moment.
Unlike many natural and even human-made disasters, the duration of this particular public health issue is unknown. It’s far easier to recover from an earthquake or major storm. The duration is one of minutes, hours, days or weeks, not months and even years.
That said, it is crucial to maintain flexibility and agility, take acceptable, measured risks, and anticipate possible outcomes so you can plan for those scenarios that are most likely to happen and which have the most significant impact.
If you are new to crisis planning and the method for determining the likelihood and impact of various scenarios, feel free to download our crisis planner: When Trouble Strikes.
As summer may provide a break in the crisis, we are working on a second primer that will walk you through the process of ramping down operations in preparation for a second wave and reopening more quickly once the danger has passed.
Post-Crisis Transition Planning
(As the First Pandemic Wave Dies Down)
First, realize that life will eventually return to normal, or a “new normal.” During the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, 98% of the population survived and the business community eventually rebounded and flourished.
The goal of a post-crisis plan is to get your operations up and running predictably and efficiently. You may have been forced to close your business suddenly or severely reduce operations, closing down machinery or production lines without the usual precautions or routine maintenance. Employees may have been sent home for the day with little to no notice. You may not even have a way to contact all of your workers to let them know the status of your business and their future employment.
It’s almost certain that you didn’t have time to fully grasp the economic impact a global pandemic would have on your business. No one – not even the best minds in crisis and disaster planning – would have given this scenario serious thought.
Going forward, you will probably have to do things differently than you did before. Until an effective vaccine is readily available, you may have to make changes to the workplace to maintain proper distancing, monitor employees who display symptoms and prevent additional outbreaks among your workforce.
Since no one has tried to start up a city full of businesses from a dead stop before (let alone a global economy), we’ve put together the following checklists to help you assess where you are now and how you’re going to get to the next stage – resumption of operations – when the powers that be finally give us all the green light.
Many of these steps can be started well ahead of your reopening and doing them now will save you a lot of time and headaches down the road. Plan early, know things may change at any moment and stay up to date.
NOTE: These lists are intended for businesses of all sizes and industries. Smaller businesses are not going to need every step. Feel free to cherry-pick the steps that make sense for your individual business.
Also, many larger industries have been working with the Governor’s office to create their own standards and practices related to reopening. These more global plans can be invaluable in planning your specific course.