Natural disasters happen. Small business owners are well aware of this and many have taken steps to ensure that potential damage to their business is minimized and they can remain operational - a practice commonly known as business continuity. The vast majority of small business owners ensure that their data is backed up. While this is a good practice, it likely won’t be enough to remain operational during or after a disaster.
Here are five things you should be doing, aside from backing up your data, to ensure you're ready for anything.
- Where to work. One of the first things you should consider is where you're going to work if your office is inaccessible. Hotels, convention centers or other office buildings are viable locations. Whichever location you pick, you should pick at least two different places, as far apart as possible. You should also be sure to inform your staff and include maps of the routes to the locations you’ve chosen.
- Replacement equipment. It’s incredibly important that you know exactly what equipment you use and how integral it is to operations. For mission critical equipment (equipment your company absolutely can’t work without) you need to have a plan in place as to how you can quickly replace lost equipment, the cost of it and replacement time. For less important equipment, you should have a couple of vendors in mind.
- Communication systems. During adverse business conditions it’s vitally important that you and your employees are able to communicate both with one another and with your clients. You should look into a communication system that’s flexible, can be established wherever you are and allows you to keep your numbers. VoIP is a great system, telecommuting is another option as well.
- Coordinate staff. You’re staff drive your business, without them, your business likely won’t be able to run. With the continuity plan you develop, it’s important that you have hard and soft copies of the plan that are accessible to all staff, and staff know their role in the plan. When your plan is enacted you need to contact your staff and ensure that there aren’t any problems.
- Access to critical documents. If you have a good backup location, can set up equipment quickly and staff know their roles you may think your plan is perfect. You’re missing one key element: access to documents, employees won’t be able to work without them. It’s important to ensure that you can access your data backups, which means you should probably keep copies offsite and in the cloud if possible.