Small business owners are exemplary planners. We advocate financial plans, business plans, marketing plans. But do you have a disaster plan? Mother Nature is unpredictable and so are your fellow human beings! Disaster used to imply just weather issues, but these days it can be violence or hacking. Companies that thrive after disasters like Katrina were companies that had a plan and were prepared. Are you?
In preparing a disaster plan, you need to think about what the absolute minimal requirements are to get you up and running post disaster either on or off site. Think staff, communications and data. Are your people secure? Are there first aid kits and do employees know where they are? Discuss the “disgruntled employee” scenario and if the business set up makes anyone person particularly vulnerable. Where would people go if a violent situation occurred? Are your doors keycode protected? Should they be?
How many people and what are their roles should many of your employees be out of commission? It is helpful to have as many staff members cross-trained in other roles as possible. Do this based on interest when possible. Where WOULD you work if you could not work in your building? Can you set up rough operations in your home? If so, what equipment do you need? Do you keep a spare laptop at home?
If your business is knocked out, how will customers communicate with you? Does your telecommunications company have the ability to reroute your calls temporarily? Can you get a rarely used cell phone for just this type of emergency?
Finally, backing up your important files (including client lists, contact management systems, financial data, web and blog files) should be routine! Store as little as possible “in house” and instead utilize cloud storage. Google’s file storage is ridiculously cheap and you can also check out Box.net and other similar sites. Backing up to a second hard drive won’t help if your business burns down.
Put your disaster plan in writing, share it with your management team for tweaks and then make sure your employees are informed. It is certainly one of those items that gets postponed, and yet could be the difference between your business surviving or failing after a disaster.
by Steven Schlagel