Fire? Flood? Tornado? How Would Your Business Recover?
Even if your business is located in a geographical area that isn’t prone to tornados or earthquakes or hurricanes, you can still suffer a short-term ceasing of operations because of a fire or flood, or because of a widespread or localized power outage.
It’s not just natural disasters that can shut you down temporarily. If your computer security systems aren’t maintained and updated – and sometimes even if they are – a malicious intrusion from the outside (or within) can force you to stay offline until the damage is repaired.
If you haven’t formalized a disaster recovery plan – some in the industry call it Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Planning — and you don’t practice preventive measures, you’re probably going to be out of commission for at least a few days. The orders that didn’t get taken, the bills that didn’t get paid, the payroll taxes that didn’t get submitted and pay runs that were delayed – all will cost you money at the very least. You may lose customers, inventory, and important documents.
But you don’t have to. Here are some ways to prepare.
Back up all of your data to the cloud. Everything. If you’re using cloud-based applications and have offsite computers and mobile devices that you can deploy, you’ll be in better shape than most businesses who get hit. Work-stopping disasters, in fact, are one of the many reasons you should be doing at least your critical tasks – accounting, document management, personnel administration, etc. – using online solutions.
Data backup is not just a good idea. It should be policy. Cloud-based applications will have automatic backups, but any information that is being stored in desktop software needs daily – maybe even hourly – employee attention. Spot-check this obligation occasionally to ensure compliance. Store the disks for local applications offsite.
Scrutinize your business insurance policies. Look for specific information about disaster recovery. It’s good to be frugal, but not where your company’s insurance is concerned. Change it if necessary.
Keep your employees in the loop. Any disaster that occurs will affect everyone. Make sure that your staff knows what the plan is.
Don’t eschew at least part-time telecommuting. Embrace it. Some research has indicated that a good work/life balance and flexible hours/workplaces can be even more important to some of today’s employees than their salary level. Where it makes sense, turn your millenials’ fascination with mobile devices into a plus. Make an effort to learn what can be done out of the office as easily as in and let some of that work be done as a part of the workday.
Talk to your accountant or financial advisor. Many of today’s accounting professionals have become small business consultants in addition to being specialists in numbers, and can advise you on a wide variety of decisions and goals.
If the worst happens, reach out for help. Better yet, explore your options before you need them. The Small Business Administration (SBA), for example, offers a Disaster Preparedness and Recovery Plan for businesses in trouble after a disaster. Capital, counseling, and contracting services are available through the agency.
Before business was so dependent on computers, a disaster really could shut down a business by destroying every piece of paper. Mobile technology and cloud-based applications give you a much better chance of surviving. So take advantage of what’s available.