Think the Shutdown Won’t Affect Your Business? It Might

As the negotiations continue at an impasse and the shutdown of many parts of the U.S. Federal government continues, the vast majority of us continue to be unaffected in any aspect of our lives.  But the further the shutdown drags on, the more we’re beginning to see little changes that might continue to build and threaten the progress of our businesses if not resulting in actual business disruption.

shutdown-croppedTo cite a miniscule example, the shutdown first affected me personally when I was asked last week to make the expected annual updates to a set of route maps that I created for a charity bike tour many years ago.  The route is always the same so the updates usually consist of changing the date on the maps which amounts to about five minutes’ worth of work.  But the route director called me frantically on Sunday because the first two break points on the first day of the tour are on the borders of national parks and he’d just discovered that those two break areas – essentially two patches of grass – were closed.  It took them several days to secure new locations and my five minutes of work on the project suddenly turned into two hours against the backdrop of an immediate printing deadline.

Now, however, we’re also seeing much larger impacts to all kinds of businesses. The point is that once again we’re faced with a “never before imagined” impact on commerce and the potential for sporadic, though increasing, business interruptions.  In the last few days I’ve heard from three different people about their plans, whether professional or personal, being significantly impacted by the shutdown:

  • A third-party service provider hamstrung by the temporary but irreplaceable loss of government-provided data
  • A honeymoon considerably redesigned at the last minute
  • The possible cancellation of an entire trade show – regardless of how soon the shutdown ends – due to the loss of government and government-sponsored exhibitor participation

As always, the message is preparedness, both short- and long-term, for events that we can imagine but especially for events that we can’t imagine.  We can plan for power interruptions, tropical storms and devastating fires but we always need to remember and plan for the really ‘creative’ surprises that pop up from time to time.

Sooner than later, unanticipated effects of the shutdown might go from being just something you happen to hear about into larger problems with greater impact.  How might the current situation affect your organization later this week, next week or even farther into the future?  If you’re forced to rearrange how you do business and even consolidate personnel from different locations, hopefully temporarily, the time to think about how best you could do so is . . . always.


Continuity Housing helps companies enhance their business continuity plans by pre-arranging guaranteed housing and providing logistical support for mission-critical employees during disasters.

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