All small business owners should have a comprehensive disaster recovery plan. We have witnessed so many recent natural disasters that it would be foolish to be unprepared.
The two most critical components of small business disaster survival are a comprehensive backup of business data and systems, and an insurance policy that will allow you to rebuild.
It can be overwhelming to prepare for a disaster, especially when you aren’t even sure of what the circumstances will be. We have compiled a brief disaster recovery checklist to get you started.
Disaster Recovery Checklist:
- Identify your risks (kinds of disasters you’re most likely to experience)
- Establish a disaster recovery team
- Assign Responsibilities to disaster recovery team
- Begin to create your plan
- Prioritize critical business functions
- business data back up should be a top priority
- disaster insurance
Designate alternative operation locations Contact information Customer preparation Cash flow management Create a employee pocket guide for your disaster plan
Identify your risks – It’s important to try to recognize what possible disasters could strike in your area. Try if you can to expect the unexpected, but if hurricanes are prevalent in your area, you definitely need to plan for them. Identifying your risks can help assist you in your planning. So for example if hurricanes are frequent then you probably want to make sure you have flood insurance and so forth.
Establish a disaster recovery team – select key team members and if you have them, department heads to be a part of the disaster planning. Assign responsibilities to the disaster recovery team you establish.
Critical Business Functions – prioritize critical business functions for your business. Make a list of the things you absolutely need to run your business on a daily basis i.e. Computer connectivity, access to contact information and databases, bank accounts, inventory management systems/CRM etc. Perhaps it would be a good idea now to invest in a backup generator for your business. Last fall some businesses and home owners were out of power for a week or more. Those who were prepared had generators in place, those who did not weren’t able to work and business was lost.
Designate alternative operating locations– employees could have the capability to work from home, hotel or satellite office.
Equip your backup operations site with critical equipment, data files and supplies:
- Power generators
- Computers and software
- Critical computer data files (payroll, accounts payable and receivable, customer orders, customer database and inventory)
Contact information – It’s important to have current and multiple contact information (e.g., home and cell phone numbers, personal e-mail addresses) for not only your employees but also key customers, important vendors, insurance companies and disaster recovery partners established prior. Establish forms of contact should a crisis arise – or an emergency hot-line. The last thing you want employees to do is risk their lives heading to the office in a storm because they weren’t informed – not to come to the office.
Customer preparation – provide key customers with your emergency contact information and back up location for sales and service support. It would be helpful to also list this information on your website. If at all possible it would be great to establish alternate methods for placing orders and invoicing as a back up should you current systems be inoperable.
Cash Flow Management – be in the know and have all critical bank account information in a back up location and in a folder you can grab in the event of an evacuation. When crisis arise if you have time and a plan – you will know to grab the prepared folder and /or check books to have on hand.
Employee Pocket Guide – create a laminated business card with key contacts, emergency numbers, backup location information etc. That way when an emergency strikes everyone has a quick cheat sheet in their wallet they can reference. All emergency numbers should be in every employees cell phone etc., but should those phones be inoperable, you have a quick reference guide.
There are so many things you can do to prepare for a potential disaster. The above check list is just a brief overview to get you started. Remember that connectivity and insurance should be key elements in your plan. And although we all hope not to have to face a potential disaster, it’s critical that we are prepared for one.
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