Business Recovery: Where To After The Clean Up?

For businesses affected by flooding in Queensland and Victoria, by now you will have cleaned out your business’ premises, spoken to your insurer and employees and advised your customers, creditors and financiers that your business may not be operational for some time. So where to from here?

Now’s the time to step back and look at the big picture – there are some important decisions to make.

The biggest decision you will have to make is whether you actually want to re-open your business. This is an emotional as well as financial decision and requires consideration on many levels.  For example:

  • Did you actually enjoy what you were doing before the disaster? If you stayed in business primarily because you were comfortable with the routine, but were not finding the work itself satisfying, now might be the time to consider alternatives.
  • Was your business providing the financial reward you expected?  Running a business requires an enormous investment of time and effort. Were you being adequately compensated for your dedication?
  • Did being your own boss live up to your expectations? Many people believe that ‘being my own boss’ will provide a utopian-like work environment, but quite often the additional freedom is over-shadowed by responsibility.
  • What are the alternatives? Will your qualifications enable you to secure rewarding permanent or contract employment elsewhere?

And finally, are you adequately prepared, financially and emotionally, to rebuild? The weeks following the devastating Queensland flood have been incredibly demanding, and there are months, and maybe even years of rebuilding ahead.

If, after considering the above, your answer is ‘yes’, then the next task is to determine how you’re going to reopen. Firstly, you’ll need to prepare a detailed business recovery plan. You can refer to your plan when communicating with stakeholders – you might even want to give them a copy.

Most business recovery and rebuilding plans follow a similar framework:

  • Phase 1 – Gathering and recreating data on all aspects of the rebuilding project. The CPA’s Disaster Recovery Toolkit for Business provides an excellent checklist for re-opening your business after a disaster.
  • Phase 2 – Assessing the data gathered, identifying alternatives and determining which is most viable in your particular circumstances.
  • Phase 3 – Implementing the selected initiatives.

Of course creating a business recovery plan is not as simple as that. There will be crossover of many of the rebuilding initiatives, and some will need to be implemented concurrently.

It is these complexities which make creating a formal business recovery plan essential to success. If you haven’t prepared a plan of this kind before you might find useful the template referred to in my blog 5 Steps to Help Your Business Recover from a Disaster.

Finally, make sure you appoint a Project Manager to oversee your plan – he or she should co-ordinate regular committee meetings and maintain the rebuilding momentum.

Please stay tuned for the next instalment of our rebuilding guide. If you have any business recovery tips to offer, or stories to tell of how a disaster impacted on your business, we’d love you to share these.

Michael Fingland is executive director of the Turnaround Management Association of Australia and founder and Executive Director of Vantage Performance. Michael is a Chartered Accountant with more than sixteen years experience in corporate turnaround, profit improvement and corporate restructuring. Vantage Performance specialise in improving business performance and executing corporate turnarounds. We work with companies going through major growth or change, helping them to improve profit and performance. We also advise underperforming companies or those in financial distress, helping improve cash flow, profitability and value of the business. Vantage Performance was awarded Turnaround of the Year in 2008, 2009 and 2010 by the Turnaround Management Association of Australia for its work with troubled companies.

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