The common evil of downtime

Something that every business has, but which you probably want to do away with as much as possible, is downtime. If you are not sure what this is, it’s actually quite simple, but simply, downtime is when your business systems and processes experience an outage for a while, causing either a part of or the entire business to slow down or even come to a complete halt. Clearly enough, this is not something that you want to happen very often in your business, and if it is then you might want to think about what you can do to prevent it happening again in the future. Your business is more at risk of downtime if you are a one-person-show, and you take care of everything. Any time you get ill, take a holiday (I know, holidays are not for entrepreneurs..), or something else happens that prevents you from working – nothing happens. Here are a few tips to help you prevent downtime, and how to deal with it when it happens anyways.

Preventative Measures

The best cure is always prevention, as they say, and that is definitely the case when it comes to downtime in your business. If you want to prevent downtime, you need to make sure that you have a proper plan in place for doing so. That might be easier said than done, but there are a number of things to consider doing if you really want this to happen. For a start, you might want to think about utilising the help of a preventative maintenance system to give your internal processes a helping hand early on. These systems will spot the likely problems to occur and fix them before they occur, meaning that you are dealing with downtime before it actually happens. This is relevant if you have systems in place that are running and rely on your intervention if they go down. So from the tech side, these are considerations you need to make. You can’t realistically be on call 24/7 on your own, so put something in place that does it for you. 

Hiring People

One of the best early responses to all kinds of downtime is to simply make sure that you are hiring enough people to begin with. As long as you have enough people on board, you can be sure of the downtime being less of an issue, in part because you will simply have more people to deal with any problems, and as when they occur. For this reason, it is important to make sure that your recruitment process is as good as possible in the early days of your business. Recruiting is difficult, time consuming and costly. It’s a problem shared among all entrepreneurs. Not an easy one to fix, but consider also what you want your company to look like once you have hired. What is your company culture? How do you motivate and keep good people? This isn’t part of the recruitment process directly, but it plays a role in attracting the right candidates and also then keeping them longer term. 

Acting Fast

Once it is clear that there is something which is causing downtime in your business, you should make sure that you are doing whatever you can to get rid of it as quickly as possible it can be helpful to think of it as literally draining your business of money, as that is no exaggeration of what is really happening here. By acting fast you can ensure that your business stays on track much more readily, so it is definitely worth ensuring that you do so every time this problem might arise. With each time, you will also learn more and more about what you should do to avoid it happening again, so bear that in mind as well.

*Photo at the top of the page by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

Christine Buske is a former academic who left science at the bench, and now considers herself a woman in tech. She is a frequently invited speaker, and enjoys talking about career transformation (particularly leaving academia for the business world), tech, issues around women in tech, product management, agile, and outreach. She is a proud Canadian resident, and qualifies as a "serial expat".


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