Is your small e-learning business running smoothly right now? You may think of writing a contingency plan just in case this all changes tomorrow.
Is your business showing signs of slowing down? You definitely need a contingency plan to ensure you get out of the downward slope as well as possible.
A business contingency plan is not only good to have but necessary, so you have something to turn to when the unexpected (and not entirely positive) happens. We’ve all had last year to show us that many things can happen and that the effects can be immediate and often painful.
What is a contingency plan?
Some may argue that thinking about the worst that can happen is a sure way to a negative self-fulfilling prophecy. But that’s not the case in business. Being cautiously aware of potential risks and thinking ahead of time about minimizing them is smart, not pessimistic.
A contingency plan is a strategy that maps out the course of action that will need to be taken in response to an event that may or may not occur in the future. The designed plan will include steps to take so your business can go back to functioning regularly after the event mentioned above.
It’s like insuring your car against theft, wishing that never happens but being prepared in case it does. The difference is that in the case of a business contingency plan, you are the one responsible for all the stipulations.
Why have a contingency plan for your e-learning business?
I’d say having a contingency plan is necessary to sleep better at night. Knowledge entrepreneurs need to be spontaneous in some instances and well-prepared in others. For risk management to be effective, there needs to be a clear assessment of probable hazards and realistic responses to them.
There are several benefits to having a good contingency plan for your e-learning business, apart from the restful slumber. First of all, you will be a lot calmer if you were at least in some way expecting the unexpected, and you will make better decisions.
Second, it will be easier to minimize loss, and you’ll look collected and competent to your customers. This last bit can only be beneficial to your reputation and increase customer loyalty and overall brand trustworthiness.
How do you start making one?
By brainstorming, of course. The first step is to list all the potential business risks, from external factors (such as a worldwide pandemic, for example) to internal ones (such as instances in which you will be unable to work or deliver for a period of time).
Since your business is in the e-learning field, you don’t have to worry about machinery being damaged or the supply chain being severed. However, there are multiple other possible hazards and disasters, and you need to sit down and make a list.
While creativity is highly encouraged when you design courses, here, your feet should be thoroughly on the ground (needless to say that a zombie apocalypse would not require a contingency plan).
Do you need a plan for every possible scenario?
No, you have to figure out which risks are higher and would prove most disruptive for your business and address those in your plan. Run a thorough analysis of each of the items you came up with at the first step and their impact on your business. Try to estimate the operational and financial implications of such a disruption.
It can also help you gather the information you will need to develop recovery strategies. An easy way to get all the data in one place and write your contingency plan is to use one of the templates offered for free by various sources. Cambridge makes one that is very thorough and easy to use. Based on your impact analysis, you should quickly prioritize the risks, listing the higher ones first.
What needs to be written down in a contingency plan?
Each of the critical risks you have identified has to have a course of action. This must be highly specific. For example, if a shift in market demands leads to one of your top sellers suddenly not generating any revenue, don’t just write “find new ways to make money.” Instead, think of what exactly you could do to fix this issue.
For each of the items, act as if that was actually the issue at that particular moment. That way, you’ll be able to focus on finding appropriate solutions. It’s also imperative that you revisit it at regular intervals once you build the contingency plan to check its relevance.
The saying “hope for the best but expect the worst” does not encourage negative thinking but states a universal truth – it’s always better to be prepared. Having a contingency plan for your small e-learning business will greatly help its continuity when faced with adversity. Also, you could come up with innovative ideas in the process.
Graham is the CEO and Founder of CYPHER LEARNING and INDIE. He is a serial entrepreneur, e-learning enthusiast, published author, and educator.