Sometimes, the best way to ensure success for your small business is to recognize and address the issues that can hamper achievement. No matter how well you run every aspect of your business, it can all fall apart when you sustain losses from natural disasters, criminal acts or even damage caused by anything from a leaky pipe or a fire. The real question is what type of damage, if any, is your business likely to sustain when disaster hits — and how can you plan to deal with the aftermath?
Every business owner needs to consider this issue almost as soon as its doors open for business, but it’s a question of degree.
Your Business Particulars Drive Your Needs
Every company has unique concerns, and businesses typically have more to lose as they mature. The following are some of the most common types of issues that need to be considered.
Read my STARTicle about small business insurance needs to learn about the wealth of business insurance out there, but understand that you have to buy it all. Your overall goal is to make sure you obtain compensation for significant losses and maybe even receive funds to help keep your company afloat until you can start earning again.
This sounds simple enough on the surface, but it often requires some fairly complicated analyses to predict the numbers for the next year or more. A trusted insurance agent can help you with this.
Even a one-person business needs to turn to other people in the event of a disaster. Do you have a list of companies that can help with the cleanup after a flood or fire? Do you have relationship with other business owners who will provide you resources that you can use in a pinch?
Employees can become a valuable part of your disaster plan. Maybe they don’t mind providing cleanup assistance if disaster doesn’t prevent them from getting to the workplace. But they might be of even more value if they can continue conducting your company’s business from home.
It often takes little more than a home computer and phone to keep your employees productive from home. Whether they work remotely to conduct your daily business, or if they use the downtime to make sure that customers and vendors know about the situation, they can make the difference between your company’s speedy recovery and its potential downfall.
Make sure that employees have any remote tools and security access to the information they need (we’ll discuss the Cloud next). Also make sure that they have all contact information for other employees, clients and vendors — and clear written instructions on what to do in the event that disaster strikes.
Daily backups alone do not always protect your vital records against loss. These backups may serve you well if your server breaks down and you need to restore data to a new one. But, what happens if a tornado wipes out every computer in the office, including the ones used to store backups?
Sure, you can ship your backups to some remote location, but this solution gets old in a hurry, and you risk data loss if a shipment gets lost en route to its destination. Plus, regaining access to your data takes valuable time after a disaster.
The Cloud may be just a friendly name for Internet Storage — but, everyone knows that the Internet made hacking and other security risks possible, right? Actually, Cloud storage solutions have come a long way. If you choose a reputable service, your data will be much more secure than anything you can do in-house. Of course, the details vary from one provider to another. To help ensure that you meet your company’s needs, check out our comparison of leading backup services before visiting the sites for more information.
There is any number of reputable Cloud services available. And, since their offerings are scalable, even a small business can afford options that provide them with security and accessibility, just like their larger competitors.
Indirect Disaster Risks
Don’t automatically assume that you’re free and clear when no disaster actually hits your workplace. A nearby disaster might affect the roads that your employees use to get to work every day. And, what happens if disaster strikes the vendor that you count on to deliver the parts that you use to build the widgets that your company sells to customers?
No business is an island. You need to consider everything that your company relies on to make profits every day. Then figure out plans and negotiations that you have to make to address as many potential concerns as possible.
When to Call in Disaster Recovery Experts
If your business is in a fledgling state, you may prefer to take a do-it-yourself approach to disaster planning. To get a realistic picture of whether you can do it yourself, I suggest that you skim through The Emergency Management Guide for Business & Industry, provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
This guide provides all conceivable information you need to do it on your own, but it might also convince you that you need expert assistance. Whether you want to develop a disaster plan just for IT concerns, or you want someone to help you develop a holistic plan, there are many disaster planning companies to choose from. Just do your homework, and compare the offerings of multiple providers to help make sure that you get affordable services that you really need.
Disaster Recovery Plans Need to Change Over Time
Always keep in mind that changes to your business will require periodic changes to your disaster plan. Employees come and go, as do vendors and virtually everyone else that you need to count on. And, as your business grows, you’re likely to obtain new assets that you can’t afford to lose.
You definitely need to put disaster planning reviews on your calendar on a regular basis to ensure that you don’t have to worry about potential losses down the road.