“I’ll do it when I have time”. This is one of the most common things I hear every day from busy, small business owners. It’s understandable, most of you are juggling many things on your plate. As it should be, you’re busy keeping revenue flowing in and keeping your customers happy – the business of business often falls by the wayside. It’s easy to go on like that hedging your bets that nothing “bad” is going to happen to you – until – the unthinkable happens.
Recently, one of my clients lived the unthinkable. They lost critical data to a computer failure. Biting my tongue and resisting the urge to say “I told you so”, we made a recovery plan and after a few weeks of hair -pulling frustration, my client is back on track and has become the poster child for disaster proofing their business. Below is an article I want to offer you from a guest blogger intended to help you think about what you need to do to take care of your business.
A disaster can strike a business at any time and in many different ways. If the hard drive containing all of the important data needed to manufacture your new product is destroyed with no back-up, then that is a disaster that is very specific to that company. A building fire, on the other hand, is something that can affect any organization.
It’s important to plan for emergencies and run through drills that make sure that the company is ready to handle a crisis. Your company business plan should outline many of the crisis responses the company will have to many of the more common issues such as a natural disaster or fire. It should also contain an outline of the types of insurance the company needs and has. Business insurance can be an integral part of surviving a business disaster and is often required of companies of a certain size, so if you haven’t already researched a policy, you can find rate comparisons at resources like BusinessInsurance.org. There are as many types of insurance as there are disasters, so it’s important to find the policy that’s right for you.
While it can be difficult to plan for every disaster, it pays to spend time considering every possible scenario that could occur and how to handle them. The more time spent preparing for a disaster means less time spent trying to recover from one.
Think about what would happen if a power surge hit your building and wiped out all of the data on all of your company servers. Would you be able to stay in business? Would you be able to recover? Most business owners would agree that keeping the doors open if the company data is lost would be almost impossible.
The best contingency plan for potential data loss is off-site data storage. Many companies are utilizing technology known as the data storage cloud for their off-site storage needs. This is a secure storage service that the company pays for monthly like the phone bill. The data is archived and stored on third-party servers that are housed in an extremely secure structure.
If the local servers in the company location are damaged, then the company would simply access the back-up cloud and repopulate new servers. Some companies have eliminated servers and just use the cloud service for their networking.
The worst part about a fire is that it destroys everything it touches. If your office is flooded, there is an outside chance that some of the important information and equipment can be saved. But when an office burns down, it’s much more likely that nothing is salvaged.
Contingency planning for a fire is something that the most proactive companies have already done. These kinds of contingency plans include having a temporary site to set up a new office already picked out, a plan in place with the phone company to route all calls to the new location and back-up computers stored in an off-site facility that can be put online immediately.
The cloud storage set-up discussed earlier would make the transition to a temporary facility even easier. In many cases, companies have pre-existing arrangements with local hotels to rent out conference rooms or suites in case of a fire.
Key Employee Leaves
As was mentioned, some business disasters can seem insignificant to outside observers, but they can be devastating to the company itself. For example, if your vice president of sales suddenly leaves the company, then that can send a shockwave through the entire client base.
Business contingency planning includes succession planning for all of the executives, managers and key personnel.. If the vice president of sales suddenly leaves, then the contingency plan may call for the top sales manager in the company to step in and keep things running smoothly.
Companies tend to rely a lot on key employees. But there always needs to be a plan in place to keep the company going if one of those key employees should suddenly leave.
The best way to avoid a disaster is to plan for it. The company that spends time developing disaster plans is the company that is best equipped to handle any challenge that is thrown its way.