Disaster Proofing Your Business

February 2012

1. Map out a disaster plan. Many business owners haven't given a thought as to what they might do in the event of a fire, earthquake or some other sort of catastrophe that could damage their business severely. So, work up a detailed plan, taking into account as many variables as you can imagine. Take planning for earthquakes and other natural disasters seriously. Draw up a map of shut-off valves for gas, electricity and other utilities. Draft the same sort of plan for other emergency situations, such as floods, fires and even civil unrest. 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 Having an out-of-date disaster recovery plan is not much better than having none at all.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.  

2. Back up computer files somewhere else. Any business owner with extensive computer files and records needs to back them up on a regular basis. But take that bit of common sense a step further and make certain your backups are located somewhere other than your business. Call us with your questions and concerns. 

3. Don't forget to store physical papers and records off-site. Don't overlook the safety of tangible records, such as printed client lists, bills and receipts. 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. 

4. Keep insurance current. Meet with your insurance agent on a regular basis to make certain that your coverage is up to date. This way, you won't have to reach into your own pocket to make up for any coverage shortfalls. 

5. Set up an emergency cash reserve. Personal financial experts routinely suggest that families set aside three to six months of living expenses for use in emergency situations. If possible, take the same road with your business. That way, should something nasty happen, you'll have money available to pay rent, meet your bills and keep payroll flowing without having to resort to layoffs. 

6. Let others know your disaster strategy. Don't treat your disaster planning as a state secret. Make sure your employees understand what they need to do should the worst occur.  

Let’s face it—you probably can’t do much to prevent a disaster from happening. The very nature and timing of these events are often sudden and unexpected. But surely, 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. 


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