Although the recent spate of natural disasters have passed through leaving relatively little damage in their wake, we’ve all seen how much havoc a storm, earthquake, fire, or another unexpected calamity can wreak. In seconds flat, a disaster in this league can undo a lifetime of work and investment. And yet, surprisingly few business owners have a standing disaster plan in place.
Let’s face it—you probably can’t do much to prevent a disaster from befalling your business. The very nature and timing of these events are often sudden and unexpected. But according to the U.S. Small Business Administration, business owners who have established a disaster plan can often significantly reduce the time and money it takes to get back on their feet and open for business in the aftermath of a disaster.
Even if you’ve been putting off the disaster planning process for years, there’s never a better time than the present to get started. September is National Preparedness Month, so why not use these tips to get a jump-start on your business disaster recovery plan today?
Assess your situation. Put on your prediction cap and evaluate the primary risks your business faces. Are hurricanes or tornadoes prevalent in your area? Is your firm located in a flood zone? Do you carry a lot of sensitive inventory or costly equipment that could pose a major vulnerability in case of disaster? Make a list of the top ten calamities you’re likely to face at some point and use this as the basis for your plan.
Take another look at your insurance coverage. Your current policies probably already cover most of the basics, but it might be beneficial to explore and compare supplemental policies and options, as well. Talk to your agent about the top risks facing firms in your industry and region, and ask for any recommendations they might have. Inquire about disaster recovery benefits, as well.
Create a “rainy day” fund. After you’ve taken a look at the most likely disaster scenarios that are facing your firm, it’s time to begin to plot out the recovery process—and the resources that getting back on your feet will require. Based on all the factors you can think of, estimate a basic disaster recovery budget. If possible, settle on a dollar amount that you think will be sufficient to get your business up and running again before any applicable insurance claims or disaster relief funds come through.
Gather and protect vital information. One of the biggest roadblocks that business owners face in the aftermath of a disaster is getting their hands on the important documents and other key information and intelligence that they need to proceed with business as usual. Take the time to make digital and hard copies of all your mission-critical documents and information—and store them off-site. This cache of information may well prove to be a logistical lifesaver someday.
Revisit your disaster recovery plan periodically. Having an out-of-date disaster recovery plan is not much better than having none at all. Each time that your business grows or shifts gears, pull out your plan and make any applicable changes. Experts recommend taking a cursory look at your disaster recovery plan at least once a year.
Does your firm have a disaster recovery plan in place? Has your business ever been dealt an unexpected blow by natural or manmade forces beyond your control? Tell us your story in the comments.
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It was contributed by a community member and is published "as is." It seems to have worked for at least one person, and might work for you. But please be sure to test, test, test before you do anything drastic with it.