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Contingency planning: Failure isn’t an option…

A single point of failure in your business can have devastating consequences. But it’s easy to protect yourself with contingency planning. Chris Cooper explains how. 

Setting up a business is exciting, rewarding and challenging – all great things! But let’s be honest – it’s not all roses. As a small business owner or sole trader, everything is your responsibility, whether you have the skills to do it or not. With so many plates to spin, it only takes one mistake for it all to crash down. 

In the pandemic, all too many small businesses suffered the consequences of additional pressure. Not only did many suffer from the loss of the in-person market, they had to work out ways to pivot their business, manage their finances more effectively and implement all of the administration necessary. The severe circumstances had drastic effects on business and personal health. This was an extreme situation, but nevertheless, the risk of not implementing contingency exists to sole traders at all times. 

What happens, for example, if you’re unwell? Or if you forget a payment deadline? Or suffer a technical failure? Or even, if you suddenly become extremely busy? 

Protecting your organisation isn’t a complicated business, it’s just about spreading the weight of responsibility. Having the support of external services to take the strain is all you need to weather the storm. 

Where to spread the weight

So where do you start? The best place is the areas you are currently working on that are not your specialty. Here are a few things you might find useful to outsource:

Outsource your bookkeeping

Not everyone is a whizz with numbers. That’s ok – there are people who are. Trained bookkeepers are there to keep your books in order, and can do in seconds what it might take you hours to do. On top of this, they’re accurate, up-to-date on the latest legislation and don’t cost as much as you might think, especially when it comes to weighing up the cost of your own time. Additionally, outsourcing your bookkeeping means your books will always be done on time, regardless of the pressures that you’re under, making sure that you avoid any penalties. 

Outsource your payroll

Anything that applies pressure on a regular basis is a great task to outsource because you’ll receive an ongoing benefit. Payroll is an essential function that you simply cannot get wrong and given that it’s processed continually, the benefit of outsourcing this task can be great. With pensions, benefits, national insurance and many other factors affecting payroll, it pays to get someone who knows what they’re doing to shoulder the responsibility.  

Outsource your administration

Little tasks aren’t so little when you add them all up, that’s why admin can be extremely time-consuming. From sorting and organising your documentation, to diary and meeting management, virtual assistants can support you with all of the administrative tasks to keep your business going while you get down to business and for a fraction of the cost of an in-house administrator.

Outsource your credit control

Outsourcing isn’t just a great time-saver, it can help to protect your reputation too. When it comes to chasing customers for payment, there is a delicate balance to find in your communications. Outsourced credit controllers understand the challenges and can process credit control both sensitively and effectively, with the right language, ensuring that your customer relationships remain undamaged. 

Outsource your HR support

Your team are your most valuable asset and it takes time to nurture their potential and maintain their performance. But if time isn’t on your side, letting an outsourced human resources team support you with performance management, training and development, employee record keeping and policy creation could be beneficial. As your team grows, they can help with your recruitment and contracting too. 

Ultimately, outsourcing is about maintaining consistency through any eventuality, be it sickness or holidays or unexpected disruption. It can improve quality by allowing you to focus on your specialist areas, and by supporting customers and staff better with qualified assistance.

I would add that when considering outsourcing, don’t move your problem from one place to another. If your outsourced provider is a sole trader, make sure they have contingency in place to cover them. At Seofon we ensure there is always cover for our clients, and this has been our practice since day one.   

If you’re interested in learning more about contingency and recovery planning to help your business survive the unexpected, give us a call and we can take you through the options.

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