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  • Writer's pictureErika Andresen

Failure is always a possibility; it shouldn't be an option

Samuel Beckett is famous for writing the following: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” It has become a rallying cry or mantra of entrepreneurs...you know, the people who build the plane while flying it/take the test before learning the material.


A lot of business owners fall into the bucket of risking failure. Some degree of failure is unavoidable (neither risk management nor business continuity can bring risk of failure to 0%). But 1) is it intentional, and 2) do they learn?


Business continuity is instant security. It is a cost-saving program. Its benefits are why international corporations, big companies, financial institutions, healthcare facilities, and the federal government all do it (large corporations call it "enterprise resiliency"). Mid and Small-sized businesses, though, don't. Partly because they don't know about business continuity but also because they see it as a cost, not an asset.


If business owners know about business continuity yet don't practice it, is there an intentional assumption of the risk? If the plan is to say, "Oh, I don't need to worry about it, I have insurance for that"[like in a previous blog: https://www.eaasc.com/post/oh-i-have-insurance-for-that-ok-but], that's a semi-informed intentional assumption of risk. If the plan is to just roll the dice and close up shop if they can't survive a disruption or disaster, are they going to disclose that to their customers and vendors? Probably not, since no one will do business with them if that were the case. And if that is the case, should that be their posture? No.


The wonderful thing about failure is learning. It's how things improve. It's how things innovate. It's how businesses grow. You learn to do things differently next time. One of the beautiful things about having a business continuity plan is training it and exercising it so you know if it fails, where it fails, where it works, and where it can be improved.


Is this always the case? No. The business review article I read in 2016 that truly inspired me to do what I do had business owners who suffered through super storm Sandy answer a series of questions. The final question was, "What are you doing to prepare for next time?" Almost every single one of the business owners said, "oh, this won't happen again." They did not learn.


And they still haven't learned. A report of small businesses in what was one of the most expensive natural disaster years - $20B in 2021 – showed 46% of those impacted have done nothing to prepare for next time. Is this ignorance or indifference? Either way, no lesson was learned and those business owners will likely be part of another statistic from the US Chamber: 90% of small businesses that face a disaster fail within 2 years.


Let's make that not be the lesson - the not learning from failure. Be proactive in attaining security. Fail but plan on failing better next time if you have to fail again. Train and exercise the business continuity plans you invested in to double down on success.



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