Small businesses need to develop their own plans for surviving and recovering from a disaster. Having a disaster plan can help your company mitigate an otherwise devastating loss. Implementation of a business continuity plan can minimize disruption of your company’s activities due to a calamitous event.
Disaster Planning and Small Business Risks
Your first step in disaster planning should involve making an assessment of risks. Identify your company’s most valuable assets and give them priority in developing your plan. When considering individual risks, note how severely such a risk would impact your business and make an estimate concerning the probability of such an event taking place. Specific risks to consider should include:
- Seasonal storms such as tornadoes or ice storms
- Loss of building access
- Loss of power
- Telecommunications failures, such as cable cutting incidents
- Infrastructure failures
- Toxic spills
- Significant economic downturns
- Illness outbreak affecting many employees
After making an assessment of risks, take advantage of the available disaster planning resources to prepare a list of the necessary measures for protecting your business in the event of a disaster. Make a point of educating your employees about all of these procedures.
What to Include in Your Disaster Plan
The disaster plan for your small business should address all critical elements of your company’s operations and should be consistent for each department of the business. Make a point of revising it when necessary. The plan should include these essential steps:
- Establish a team of designated employees responsible for emergency preparedness with one individual identified as the team manager and a chain of command for implementation of the plan.
- Have a backup communications system in the event of land line and cell phone system failure. Walkie-talkies and battery-powered mobile General Radio Service transceivers (also known as citizens’ band or CB radios) are particularly useful for this purpose.
- Identify your company’s key business suppliers and clients and coordinate your disaster plan with their plans.
- Make arrangements to have enough cash available for at least one week of operations.
- Contact your insurance broker to make sure that you have the appropriate insurance coverage, including coverage for business interruption as well as coverage for lost equipment and furnishings.
- Have a system in place for off-site storage of data and off-site storage of critical documents.
- Keep a first-aid kit available along with anti-bacterial products for cleaning wounds.
Use Cloud Computing for Disaster Mitigation
Small businesses can use a cloud-based accounting platform for disaster mitigation. For example, QuickBooks Online accounting software offers cloud-based data storage and the system makes data backups on a daily basis. It has apps available for smartphones and tablets, allowing you to conduct business activities remotely. Since your data is stored in the cloud, an inoperable server in your office is of no consequence. As a result, disaster mitigation efforts such as arranging for off-site data backup and off-site storage of critical documents become unnecessary when you switch to a cloud-based system like QuickBooks Online.