Hurricanes. Fires. Equipment failure. Accidental deletion. Theft. What would you do if your company’s emails, billing records, customer files, inventory reports, payroll and tax information suddenly disappeared? If you’re unsure, you should probably create a disaster preparedness plan. Having a solid plan in place is critical for small businesses, as research from the Federal Emergency Management Agency states that up to 40 percent of small businesses affected by disaster will never reopen. For starters, here’s a look at 5 easy things you can do to disaster proof your business:
1. Develop a written, documented disaster preparedness plan
Work with your team leaders (office managers, IT, security, sales, etc.) to create a detailed, written plan of action that makes sense for your company. Include emergency contact information for all employees and vendors, and make sure to keep a copy offsite. The plan will be no help to you if it’s in a desk you can’t get to!
2. Review your current backup plan
Disasters tend to strike when they are least expected, and can instantly wipe out a significant amount of data. Small businesses say that data is their most valuable asset, but many small businesses only back up files once or twice a month, which can result in tremendous loss. Online backup is the best way to ensure you get all of your backed up files back in the event of a disaster. Look for an online backup provider that will allow you to remotely access the files in your backup from nearly any Internet-connected device, so you can keep connected in an emergency.
3. Back up your data constantly
Make sure you use a service that works automatically and continually in the background. Doing so can do more than save you money; it can literally save your company. Look for a service that transmits your protected files offsite to secure severs to ensure your files are safe from theft, fire, spills, power spikes, power outages, physical accidents, and just about anything else that might happen to your office.
4. Designate an alternative site of operation
Do you have another location where key employees can conduct critical business functions in the event of a disaster? Ideally, you would want to identify at least two separate locations, one of which should be at least an hour away from your current location. This will increase the likelihood that you will be able to communicate with employees and customers throughout a disaster.
5. Keep your plan current
If your plan is out of date, it is essentially useless. For example, it won’t do your employees any good to show up at your alternate office site if it went out of business a year ago, and an out-of-date plan could mean you’re calling vendors you no longer work with. Ideally, your plan should be updated annually or each time major changes to your business are made.
While your company’s disaster preparedness plan will be unique based on your own business needs, the above tips will help you assess, document and execute your disaster plan so your business can be up and running as soon as possible after a disaster.
For more preparedness planning ideas for your business, check out http://www.ready.gov/business .