Surviving a Government Shutdown: 3 Things Every Small Business Should Consider

Now that the Congress has provided a temporary stopgap measure, have you thought about how the shutdown may have directly, or indirectly, impacted your business?

On October 1, 2013, the U.S. federal government shutdown activity, leaving non-essential government services and employees blowing in the wind.

As reported by the Washington Post, those agencies and workers considered “essential or critical supporting protection of life or property” were the only staff required to report to work. All others were to sit back and wait for Congress to pass a budget.

While the shutdown was active, access to small business loans, training, counseling, and contracting services were unavailable. In fact, the shutdown may have, very well, put some small businesses out of business.

Now that the Congress has provided a temporary stopgap measure, have you thought about how the shutdown may have directly, or indirectly, impacted your business? Do you need answers to help get your small business back on track?

Moving forward, here are three things every small business owner should consider:


1. Business Continuity Planning

Although most small businesses have launched business continuity plans and prepared for times uncertain economic times likes this, some have not. For those who haven’t, now is a good time to make sure you have one.

Every entrepreneur should design a business continuity plan to keep the company up and running through interruptions of any kind. This is important, not for the purpose of the current conditions, but for future conditions.

For instance, according to FEMA, 75% of business that did not have a business continuity plan failed within 3 years. This data can be interpreted as, 25% of businesses who already have one in place have a good chance of surviving. This alone should be reason enough to ensure your business has a continuity plan in place.


2. Strategic Hiring and Staffing Plans

For many small business owners, it seems like a time in which they should be more cognizant of expenditures. However, looking for good talent should always be part of your tactical business expansion plans.

Good talent is hard to come by. For example, after speaking with one local area small business in College Park, MD, they reported scheduling interviews during the shutdown. Thinking proactively is the name of the game in business.


3. Good Housekeeping

Take this opportunity to look at business infrastructure tasks you have put on the back burner for way too long. There is no time like the present, right?

Revisit commercial and government contracts to guarantee your obligations and rights during a crisis, like the shutdown. Anticipate inventory of your contract items to ensure there will be no further delays due to scope changes, changes to place of performance, or modifications to contract funding payments once a shutdown ended.

Also, consider how your staff will work in economically volatile times. In fact, one small business I spoke with confirmed that during the government shutdown they recommended employees either take vacation or professional training courses.

If you can, start examining your organization’s retention efforts to ensure you can gain a competitive advantage.


Small businesses have a unique challenge of trying to balance growth during uncertain market constraints and keeping the doors open. Therefore, take the time to re-evaluate and focus internally on your business efforts. They may prove to be the best time of your business’s life. For, those organizations focusing inward, tackling business tasks, and charting their next course, ultimately end up stronger after times like this.


Tami Mullen is the Managing Partner of nTuitive nGen, a local woman-owned small business located in College Park, MD that empowers, builds, and grows small business through government contracting.


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