Preparing for Disaster

The recent tornadoes in Moore, Oklahoma have dominated the news and offers a reminder to all business people that disasters can – and do – happen.  Even if you are not in “tornado alley”, weather can wreak all sorts of havoc making it difficult, if not impossible, to do business.

Is your business ready to quickly recover from a disaster?  A recent Wall Street Journal article featured the recovery program of the Waffle House.  Yes, the Waffle House, home of hash browns throughout the South is prepared for disasters and can serve as a model for all small businesses.  You may not care about being able to serve eggs but the ability to be “back up and running” quickly after a disaster is a worthy goal for all businesses. 

What would you need to do business tomorrow?  Depending on the nature of your business, the answer may vary.  For many entrepreneurs, the answer is “my data”.  If that’s true for you, what steps have you taken to be sure you will be able to access your data tomorrow?

There are online backup services such as Carbonite which are widely available at modest costs which do automatic backups of your data and provide you with access to your files from anywhere.  The new app for your smartphone comes in handy even if you are just out of town and need to access something on your office computer.  Plus it backs up everything stored on your phone too, offers an option to “lock” a lost phone or even to “wipe” it should it be stolen!   Disasters that impact access to your data can be the result of weather, human error or even equipment failure.  Are you prepared to recover quickly?

What else do you need to do business?  Is there a reasonable measure you can take to insure you will have what you need when disaster strikes?  Spend some time discussing a disaster plan with your team.

Even if you never suffer a large scale natural disaster, over time you are likely to experience everything from power outages to a broken pipe type flood to a break in or vandalism.  Simple solutions such as clearly labeling the water shut-off valve and making sure all your team members know where to find it can save your business from a crippling disaster.

Take this opportunity to talk to your business insurance agent as well.  Get a rate quote on business interruption insurance.  Weigh the cost against the risks and decide if it’s right for your business.

Long term success in business has a lot to do with the ability to weather storms, both literal and figurative.   Be sure your business is ready.

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