Small business tips: preparing for obstacles

Obstacles are there to test you. But you're a business owner – you're used to being tested. The key is in the planning and preparation.

Quite often, it's the first few years in business that are crucial. According to a study by the Office of National Statistics (ONS), only 41.7% of startups make it beyond five years.

Your business is what you make of it. If you prepare for any obstacles that may come your way, passing the five year mark will be a piece of cake.

Cash flow, disasters such as fire or flood, and people problems – read our infographic and you'll be prepared.

Illustrations of work premises, small business owner and staff highlighting tips including getting business interruption insurance Illustrations of work premises, small business owner and staff highlighting tips including getting business interruption insurance

So, to summarise:

Cash flow
Stay on top of it. Find a good accountant or bookkeeper and work out a plan for filing your accounts. Keep a close eye on your spending. Work out incomings and outgoings each month. Then plan ahead and set up monthly and yearly projections for your business. Always stick to your budget and remember you might not make a profit straight away.

Flood, fire or theft
Ask yourself, “Do I have the right insurance? Do I have copies of important documents stored in a safe place?” Think about how you’d keep things going if disaster hit and what help you’d need to get back on your feet. Make a plan for how you’d deal with a disaster. And make sure essential insurance documents are accessible remotely; in cloud storage or on web-based email.

Staffing
Every person you hire is critical to your business, so when you’re employing someone, ask yourself “can they do the job, will they do the job and can I get on with them?” Hold regular staff reviews to make sure everyone in your business is motivated and aligned.

Make an emergency plan

  1. Write down your plan and make sure everyone in your business knows where it’s saved/stored.
  2. Regularly assess the risks. Test and improve your plan.
  3. Work out the people, places, providers and processes that are critical to your business and plan for how you’d keep everything running smoothly.
  4. Train employees so they understand their role in the emergency plan.
  5. Get the right insurance and know what you’re covered for.

Coping in a crisis

  1. Make sure your employees know what’s happening and what to do. And stay calm – you’re prepared!
  2. If you’re insured with us, call us so we can help and start your claim.
  3. Let your key customers and suppliers know what’s happening so they’re not left in the lurch.
  4. If your workplace is affected, talk to your utility suppliers, and if you’re a tenant, contact your landlord.
  5. Find alternative premises – find out how we can help here.