Building Resilience: Strategies for Small Businesses to Prepare for Disruption

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Building Resilience: Strategies for Small Businesses to Prepare for Disruption

Jun 28, 2023

The current business environment is largely positive for small enterprises. You have access to advanced technology and truly global marketplaces. However, with more benefits in this new market comes just as many challenges. Whatever industry your company operates in, you face the potential for disruptions to derail your operations, cause financial hits, and create significant reputational damage.

Such disruptions may be relatively simple for large corporations to weather. However, small businesses can struggle to survive without robust disaster preparedness plans in place. This is why it is so important to take steps to improve your company’s resilience. With investment, planning, and commitment in some key areas, you can put your company in a better position to navigate issues.

Plan Around the Principles

The idea of resilience can seem a little vague. After all, don’t most businesses strive to be resilient in the face of disruptions? This can sometimes make it difficult to know where to start making effective, meaningful, and practical actions. One approach you may find effective is building your disruption preparedness plan around the principles of operational resilience. 

In essence, the core concept of operational resilience is the ability to keep functioning during unexpected incidents. An effective strategy, therefore, is directed toward activities that serve the goal of business continuation with minimal negative impact. Achieving this effectively requires your company to assess weak points in the organization, consider the holistic impact of issues rather than individual outcomes, and thoroughly test any measures you decide to implement.

This is not necessarily a permanent solution. Rather, you should treat these principles as a framework that can guide your planning processes. Work through every department of your organization and get to know its risks and how its disruption might affect the wider business. You can then build your practical response and recovery protocols from here, testing out your ideas and identifying areas for improvement.  

Maintain Awareness of Risks

We’ve already touched on the idea that a key principle of operational resilience is risk assessment. This can be one of the most challenging components of any disruption strategy. Each activity, role, tool, and department comes loaded with a range of potential hazards. So, how can you best approach the process to best navigate potential disruptions?

This begins with taking the time to talk to the experts who are already within your small business. Employers tend to conduct risk assessments, but employees should be meaningfully involved. Your staff members — particularly those with specialist skills — are likely to have a more extensive and nuanced knowledge of the hazards in their field. They work around these elements every day, after all. Arrange regular meetings with staff at all levels of the organization to discuss current and rising hazards that have the potential to cause disruption.

In addition to gaining human insights, there is also a growing number of technological solutions that are accessible to small businesses. Artificial intelligence (AI) driven predictive analytics software can provide thorough and data-informed recommendations to address potential disruptions. These tools monitor the operational data collected by your business and wider marketplace information to establish the likely current and future threats. These tools can also provide you with information about where specific areas of vulnerability lie that you may have otherwise missed.

Collaborate with Stakeholders

Company leaders are vital for spearheading and directing organizational resilience to prevent disruption. However, it’s important to remember that the most valuable strategies don’t purely come from the top. You’ll find that the greatest impact on your small business’ ongoing integrity tends to arise from involving as many of your stakeholders as possible in your plans. This can provide your efforts with a diversity of perspectives alongside filling in gaps where weaknesses lie to protect one another's mutual interests.

Some of your most important collaborations in navigating risk relate to your supply chain partners. It’s worth taking the time to cultivate skills in supply chain leadership within your organization. Good leaders of supply processes understand how to effectively communicate with the individual people that populate those chains, know how to utilize market analytics to drive decisions, and encourage collaborators to innovate in their actions. By developing these abilities within your organization, you can more effectively direct and inspire partners to take decisive steps that protect one another and recover swiftly from issues.

Another important stakeholder collaboration is with your consumers. Alongside the impact on your business, many operational disruptions affect consumers. Their items may be delayed, the quality of products might drop, and even customer information might have been stolen by cybercriminals. Therefore, establish protocols to keep your consumers informed about potential issues as they arise. It’s also worth working with them to ensure they maintain strong account security standards to minimize the potential for them to create additional points of vulnerability.


Improving your business’ resilience to disruptions can put it in a better position to thrive in the long term. Your small business should bear in mind that the most important disruption preparedness resource to invest in is its staff. Committing to training them not just in risk-related areas but in other practical and technological skills can make them more agile contributors to your organization. Your investment helps ensure you have a robust range of intelligent and capable collaborators to help you overcome any obstacles you experience.

Meet The Author:


Luke Smith

Luke Smith is a writer and researcher turned blogger.


The opinions expressed in our published works are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the National Association for the Self-Employed or its members.

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