By Daniel Hunter

The Cabinet Office, in partnership with the Business Continuity Institute and Emergency Planning Society, has launched a new 'survival' guide for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), entitled 'Business Continuity for Dummies'.

The report finds says that reducing the risk from emergencies allows SMEs to go about their business more freely and with confidence that they can manage challenges they may face.

“The resilience of SMEs matters," Minister for Political and Constitutional Reform, Chloe Smith MP said. "SMEs are the life-blood of the economy, providing employment and growth, and critical services and products to larger companies. They’re also vital in supporting their local communities cope with disasters. The quicker they can be up and running again after problems hit, the quicker whole communities can recover.”

Written with SMEs in mind, the guide acknowledges that smaller businesses just do not have the money, time and resources to prepare for disruptions, yet the cost of dealing with them when they do arise can be significant.

The guide provides simple, and for the most part inexpensive, ‘how to’ measures to deal with difficulties ranging from being let down by one of your key suppliers all the way through to major disruptions caused by challenges such as flooding, severe weather and a pandemic influenza outbreak.

“Business Continuity for Dummies brings together the wealth of experience within Government in support of business continuity planning in SMEs," Minister of State for Business and Enterprise, Rt. Hon. Michael Fallon MP, said.

"Working with business, this book takes an innovative approach to reaching out to the 5 million SMEs in this country to build the resilience of our communities and our economy. This Government is committed to supporting SMEs and this book builds on and supports the work taking place to ensure the survival and growth of our SMEs.”

In collaboration with the Business Continuity Institute (BCI) and the Emergency Planning Society (EPS), tens of other organisations representing or supporting SMEs have come together for the first time in this way, to support and help protect the health of our SMEs.

“Business in the Community (BITC) has been pleased to be involved in the development of this important Guide," Jim Haywood, Executive Director, Business Emergency Recovery Group, said.

"Through the Business Emergency Recovery Group, an initiative of HRH The Prince of Wales and convened by BITC, Business in the Community aims to support smaller businesses and local communities in getting back on their feet after an emergency.

"But prevention is always better than cure - planning ahead and building in resilience is what responsible and successful businesses do. This Guide will be an enormous help with that.”

SMEs often suffer disproportionately from disruptions of all kinds, including bigger emergencies, because many haven’t realised the impact to their business and their wider markets from disruption. Understanding the importance of continuity and getting it right, early, can see competitive advantages and in some areas, lower premiums to pay.

Simple, practical, and low cost steps are outlined that companies can take to make sure they stand up to disruptions. Based on simple things SMEs can do to understand their key processes and vulnerabilities, these can include:

- getting a good understanding of the risks their business faces, and the consequences if these events happen;

- ensuring business continuity plans match the business, fitting in with what the company does, its size, its resources, where it is based, and how it works;

- making sure that everyone gets involved, at all levels, so they all buy into the idea of business continuity, know what their role would be, and how disruption would affect those outside the organisation too.

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