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Business continuity planning – What, why and how

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Last editedJul 20212 min read

“Those who fail to prepare should prepare to fail.” It’s a common adage but it certainly rings true in business. With COVID-19 still a real threat and cyberattacks more prevalent than ever before, it’s never been more important for businesses to protect themselves from potential disaster. That’s where a business continuity plan steps in.

What is a business continuity plan?

In the event of a disaster, the show must go on wherever possible. Because the longer a business is down, the more difficult it will be to bring it back up to speed again. A business continuity plan exists to either keep things running or restore them as soon as possible in the event of a crippling disaster.

A business continuity plan should be a system of prevention and recovery that ensures business assets and personnel are protected. It involves defining risks and how they could potentially impact operations, and then implementing safeguards to mitigate that impact. It’s a vital part of any business because, while insurance can help cover costs, it won’t stop customers from moving on to the competition during your downtime.

Why do you need a business continuity plan?

Whatever the size and scale of your enterprise, when disruption strikes it’s the ones that can strike back fast that are always going to come out on top. A business continuity plan is much wider in scope than a disaster recovery plan, also involving business impact analysis, organisation and training. It should also be implemented with the insight of business owners and shareholders.

  • Maintain operations – Keeping your business running through a crisis is not only going to mitigate financial loss but will send a strong message of brand stability and confidence to your customers and employees.

  • Protect the supply chain – Nobody likes to go with their second choice but that doesn’t mean it’s not important to have a second choice on standby. Business continuity management will include vetted alternatives in case there is serious supply chain disruption.

  • Get a competitive edge – If you have a solid business continuity plan in place that allows you to continue operating at full capacity during a crisis, you’ll stand out above competitors who have struggled to do likewise.

Business continuity threats

Specific threats are always going to depend on your industry, but there are common threats that are more likely to strike whatever sector you operate in.


The COVID-19 pandemic has been a major cause of disruption for millions of businesses. It’s also caused everyone to re-evaluate the importance of their business continuity plans. Allowances need to be made for employees being forced to work from home, supply lines being disrupted and increased demand for certain items.

Natural disasters

Natural disasters are difficult to predict and can lead to devastating disruption. In the UK, the main natural disasters are flooding and severe storms, where the risk is increasing. In many parts of the world earthquakes, hurricanes, wildfires and volcanic eruptions are common. If you have supply chains in such countries, prepare for their disaster to have an impact on your business. 


Cybersecurity threats are one of the most severe potential attacks that any business needs to prepare for. This means preparing not only for downtime and the cost of bringing your systems back online, but having a solid data backup in place.

Developing a business continuity plan

Begin by establishing a business continuity management team who will be in charge of making decisions and identifying potential threats. Then do a thorough risk assessment, analysing which of those threats is most likely to affect your business in the short and long term, and which would prove the most devastating.

Finally, prepare a specific plan for every essential area of the business and work out how these areas are going to affect one another. Once you’ve settled on the final business continuity plan, document and review it before presenting the plan to your shareholders and performing trial runs to check for any gaps. Be sure to review it regularly after that, as you may need to update it. 

We can help

If you’re interested in learning more about how business continuity plans then get in touch with the financial experts at GoCardless today. Visit our website to find out how GoCardless can help you with ad hoc payments or recurring payments.

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