As a small-business owner, you have probably been meticulous and careful in planning your operations. You have identified quality, reliable vendors. You hired an experienced staff. You developed a solid financial plan. But even the best-laid plans can be scuttled by an unexpected crisis. That's where a crisis-management plant comes in. Having such a plan will prepare you to handle whatever roadblocks spring up.

Coordinate Responses

When a crisis hits, your staff will need to know who is responsible for taking appropriate actions. You may need to evacuate your office and will have to identify someone to manage that process, including ensuring that everyone is out of the building and in a safe location. Without a crisis-management plan, your staff will not be prepared to respond in an effective manner. There may be confusion as to who should be responsible for which task, confusion that can actually exacerbate the situation. In fact, confused and uncoordinated responses to crises can actually be dangerous.

Identify Resources

A crisis-management plan will enable you to identify resources that might be needed in the event of an emergency or disaster. When your clients are depending on you, you will have to be prepared with a backup plan in order to reassure them of your ability to continue to provide services or products to them. For example, if your vendor is suddenly unable to supply you with necessary parts for your product, you will need to quickly identify another reliable vendor.

Plan Communications

Customers will also be reassured when you communicate your situation with them. A crisis-management plan will include a section on crisis communications. Proactive communications to customers, the media, vendors, investors and staff will help prevent panic and potential rumors of your company's impending demise. The communications section of your crisis-management plan will include contact information for internal and external key personnel. If your warehouse were to burn to the ground in the middle of the night, you would need to be able to contact all affected personnel immediately and with the appropriate message, as detailed in your plan.

Ensure Business Continuity

A thoughtfully constructed crisis-management plan can help ensure the continuity of your business operations in an emergency or disaster. Many businesses are not able to recover from floods or fire, mainly because they were not prepared with a plan. As you face losses from technology failures or natural disasters, you might also face the loss of confidence and trust that your customers once held in you. Your crisis management will ensure that you have a backup for operations during the event and a plan for continuing to grow your business once you have recovered.