An important lesson learned during 2020 is the awareness that if anything can go wrong, it may do so, and in a big and unfathomable way. As business owners grapple with finishing out a turbulent year, the realization of developing a contingency plan takes on new meaning.

The question becomes what to do when the unthinkable happens – when you must regroup, think way outside the box, deal with severe challenges and keep your business going even when it seems impossible.

While contingency planning will not solve all issues like those faced this year, as a part of your overall business plan, it can provide the foundation to keep moving forward. In formulating a contingency plan, you need to analyze every part of your business and from many different angles.

This year regulatory issues took center stage for many direct marketers. When customers could not get to a business, owners, managers and families had to rethink and retool operations to reach buyers in new and unique ways. Knowing what we know now, developing a contingency strategy is akin to letting your imagination think about what might happen during a challenge and how you would solve the issue. It’s been amazing to see what business owners have come up with to still serve customers during the COVID-19 experience.

As you evaluate the year, make it a point to include contingency planning in your evolving business plan. It requires time and research, but as we have seen, is entirely worth the effort. And you don’t have to do all the work on your own. Engage your employees, partners, family members and customers in the planning. Ask for ideas and ways to reach the public when times are difficult. You may be surprised by the good and plentiful ideas that come from these sessions.

Remember to incorporate many aspects of your operations to cover the bases, from production to harvest. The more complete the plan, the easier it will be to begin reshaping your marketing strategies to meet the need.

In the end, a contingency plan reveals if you are prepared to respond to a challenge and the steps you are likely to take. When things are out of your control, having a plan in place can give you a head start on developing new ways to pull your business forward.

We have all learned what it means to adjust radically when the unforeseen confronts us. Now, we have the knowledge of what can happen and how we must adjust our personal and professional lives to meet a crisis. Developing a contingency plan is prudent and necessary to succeed in good times and bad. It is a lesson learned in 2020 that we will not soon forget.

The above information is presented for educational purposes only and should not be substituted for professional business and legal counseling.