In 2018, natural disaster alone cost the US $91 billion.
It isn’t always possible to predict when disaster will strike. It’s important that you and your business are prepared for when the worst does happen. But creating a business disaster recovery plan can seem like a daunting task.
Don’t worry, it’s simple! Read on for our guide that will help you get started on protecting your business.
Make a List of Critical Jobs
A good place to start is to make a list of all the jobs that are critical to the functioning of your company. These are the ones that you’d need to move so your business can keep running.
Compile this list of essential jobs. For example, support teams and customer service representatives would be critical. Telemarketing teams, though, would likely get marked down as secondary.
Put Together Important Contact Information
The key is being prepared. In a disaster situation, you want to be able to contact the key people within your company as soon as possible.
Compile a list of key people and their contact information. It pays off to do this now. Should disaster strike, you’ll know who to call and in what order. This list should include the following:
- Key company figures
- Shareholders and stakeholders
- Major clients/customers
- Insurance agents and company claims representatives
- Local emergency management offices
Put Together a Communications Strategy
Communication in the event of a disaster will be key. So you can reach those people on your contacts list, use every option possible.
Plan to put notices up outside your business/office building. Put a notice out in the local paper and contact key figures via the phone. Also put a plan in place for posting prompt updates to your social media, newsletters, and website.
Inventory Necessary Office Equipment
Next, make a list of the essential office equipment each of your employees needs to do their jobs. If disaster strikes, space, money and time are limited.
Focus on only the items that are necessary, not everything they are using currently. Here is a list of what you should be including:
- Chair and Desk
- Computer software
What is essential to each employee will differ for each company. But the key here is to keep it as minimal as you can and only focus on what they need to keep things running.
Inventory Office Supporting Equipment
Now you want to inventory the key office equipment that keeps everything else running as a whole. The servers that computers connect to, the phone network, internet routers and so on.
Think about what you use to take orders, the materials used to ship orders out. Think about services like how you meet payroll, and how you’re mailing invoices to clients. All these things behind the scenes go into making your business run.
A few more examples include:
- Back up servers
- Copies of the necessary software
- Back-up data
- Phone system
- Internet routers
Make a note of any back-up options you have. If power fails, do you have a back-up generator that will kick in? If not, are there any generators for sale that you can install and set up?
Plan to Get Alternate Office Space
It’s all well and good listing your essential people and equipment, but you’ll need a space to put them too. You don’t have to jump in and rent somewhere ‘just in case’. But you should research what options are out there in case disaster does strike.
Keep an eye on local estate agents and what office spaces they have available. Or you can reach out to neighboring businesses to see if you can agree to share office space in case of disaster.
If you have spare warehouse space or space within the company, this could be an option too. It would be the perfect relocation option as you already have it. Or you can put in place a system that allows employees to work from home.
There are options out there. The key is knowing what they are in your local area and factoring in the best choice for your business.
Back-Up Your Data
Make sure you have up-to-date copies of all important information. Records, documents, contracts and so on. Secure the duplicates on the cloud, or keep them off-site in a safe deposit that you can easily access.
It’s worth considering a BDR or back-up and disaster recovery solution. It will protect your data from natural disasters, hardware malfunction and cyber attacks. You’ll get regular, continuous back-ups. You’ll also be able to rapidly restore your data onsite or from the cloud.
This is particularly good for keeping sensitive information and client details safe. The last thing you need on top of a disaster is a data breach.
Make an Emergency Response Plan
If disaster does strike, what are you going to do first? The first priority should be to make sure you and your employees know what to do to stay safe.
With the safety plan in place, the next focus on prevention of loss to your assets, inventory, and property. What should your employees do to help prevent these losses?
You also want to make it clear to all employees who they should call and in what order. This should include yourself as the owner, authorities and any security teams. Make sure you hold regular disaster training sessions and practice runs. It’s important everyone knows their responsibilities and the plan.
Make a Business Continuity Plan
The main focus aside from keeping safe should be resuming business operations asap. As such, you also want to prepare a business continuity plan which should include:
- Business Impact Analysis – This will determine the possible effects of a disaster. What is the impact of different types of disasters? Will the timing of a disaster change how much of an impact it has? If it happens right before Christmas, you’ll see larger impacts than in March.
- Recovery strategies – Using your BIA, work out which resources will reduce the impact. Think data-back-ups, copies of contracts and important support information. Once you know what you have, work out what you still need using a gap analysis.
- Plan development – Fit the results of your BIA and your recovery strategies into your plan. Then put in place solutions to any issues that could come from losing IT infrastructure. Consider every problem that could go wrong and come up with workarounds.
- Testing – You need to test business continuity plans on a regular basis. Testing will show any weaknesses or things that don’t work. You can then fix, re-work and re-test until you’re happy with the plan you have in place.
Check Your Insurance Coverage
Not every kind of business insurance will cover you in the event of a disaster. Go over your current policy and make sure that you’re covered for any disaster events.
You want to make sure you have coverage that will pay for the indirect costs as well as the direct ones. Indirect costs would be something like the loss of revenue from the disruption caused.
There are options out there that will cover you for specific risks in your area. You can also get coverage that will pay out for any damages that occur off your property. For example, if your key supplier is hit.
Stockpile Emergency Supplies
Think about what you and your employees will need in the immediate aftermath of a disaster. Emergency kits are a must-have in case of any physical harm. Make sure you’ve put these together and employees know where to find them.
You want to include water bottles, cash, first aid, and phone/laptop chargers. Fully-charged portable chargers might be a good idea here. Think about if you might have to stay inside the office for a while. It might be an idea to have access to dried and tinned foods as well as blankets.
Arrange Logistics with Your Clients and Suppliers
A disaster won’t only affect your business, it could take out your clients or suppliers too. This could disrupt your chain of supply.
Make sure you communicate with both clients and suppliers. Share your disaster recovery plans with them, and also find out what they have in place on their ends. Arrange back-ups in case of the worst to make sure you aren’t left unable to function.
If you don’t have a plan in place with viable alternatives, it could cost you business. Clients won’t return when you’ve recovered if they aren’t satisfied. If you’re able to offer an alternative to tide them over ahead of time, this can go a long way to retaining business.
Report to the SBA
The SBA or Small Business Administration is a useful resource. They offer advice, can provide access to resources and aid in the event of a disaster.
No matter your business size, you can borrow up to $2 million for repairs and replacements. This covers damaged or destroyed property, and equipment and inventory replacement. They also offer up to $2 million in Economic Injury Disaster Loans. This will cover any working capital needs.
Get Your Business Disaster Recovery Plan in Place
So there you have it. If you follow this guide, you’ll be able to put together a solid business disaster recovery plan. This will give you the peace of mind that should the worse happen, you’ll be prepared to deal with it.
Keep detailed, up to date inventories of the essentials and have alternatives. Keep data backed up, make sure your insurance covers you. It’s important to share your disaster recovery plan with all employees.
If you found this article useful and interesting, check out our other blogs. At Powerhomebiz.com we have tips and tricks to meet all your business needs.
- 10 Common Home Office Mistakes
- How to Market Your Small Business After the Recession
- Checklist for Disaster Preparedness and Recovery
- How to Protect Your Home Office from Disasters
- How to Create a Home Office that Works