Disaster Recovery for Business Owners

How to prepare and ensure that bad doesn’t get worse.

When a business loses power, it’s a problem. Our technological age means a business must constantly be able to reach and be reached to keep up with customers and competitors. The loss of any branch of operational capacity can be costly, but there’s nothing so bad as the kind of disaster that closes an operation down completely.

It was a record year for disasters in 2017, with insurers ready to pay out $135 billion to cover losses; most of them weather-related. Many businesses took a serious blow, and when the worst occurs, it is often a small business which stands to lose the most. According to FEMA figures, 40% of them never reopen after a disaster hits.

Of course, when it comes to disasters, it’s not really a matter of business scale because every model is vulnerable. A small business certainly can’t afford significant downtime, nor can a midsize or large one.

The key for every business is preparation and planning. When disaster strikes, your recovery can get underway swiftly. Here’s some advice on covering yourself and getting back to business as soon as possible.

Planning and preparedness equals positivity

The word “disaster” may be intimidating, but you can break your positive action down into simple and manageable steps. Firstly, you must identify the risks to your business model. For example, if data is particularly important to your business, how will you back it up in the event of a power outage or damage to servers? The safe storage of data is becoming a priority for every business type in a global economy built upon technology.

Are your premises, products, and employees particularly at risk of flood, or in a zone prone to earthquakes, excessive storm activity or wildfires? Being aware of the variables unique to your situation is the first step to preparing a recovery plan.

Drafting your plan

When you begin to solidify a recovery plan, the next step should be to have the relevant contact numbers on the first page. If you have an IT solutions partner, an insurer or simply the local emergency services, having their number, email, website, and contact personnel easily accessible will speed up the process.

You should then assign your personnel to certain tasks during disaster recovery. Who will be contacting the relevant emergency parties? Which employees will be responsible for keeping their teammates in the loop regarding recovery procedures? Assigning defined roles (and breaking down every step clearly) will prevent any further chaos as your staff attempts to get things back in order.

Next, every member of your team must be clear on what classifies as a disaster. In many cases that will be obvious, but some potentially damaging incidents like power outages or internet failure may be remedied quickly. Defining a disaster depends on a full assessment of the situation by your key personnel and, if necessary, outside safety agencies. This helps a business know when to act and when to wait it out.

It is important to keep the plan as simple and brief as possible. It is also vital to ensure that every department is aware of it and possesses a copy. Each department’s needs are considered. In an emergency, the recovery steps which suit one team or location may not be practical for another.

Recovery drills and keeping it current

No plan can be considered successful unless it has been tested. Regular performance of such recovery drills will ensure a team knows their roles and can execute them effectively. Being regular in this regard has the added benefit of keeping your plan current.

After every drill, review the steps to see if all numbers are still applicable and all data is backed up. It is with your data that taking the utmost care pays off. There are many costs both tangible and intangible associated with data corruption and data loss.

An hour of IT downtime can lead to costs of tens of thousands of dollars, if not far more. If your ability to operate to a high degree of data efficiency falters, you’re also at risk of loss of client trust and damage to your reputation. Those are two very costly factors which are disasters in their own right.

Resources of further interest

If you need some certifiable peace of mind when it comes to disaster recovery, PS-PrepTM Program may be of interest. Established by the Department of Homeland Security in 2007, the voluntary program exists to help organizations implement emergency and disaster management. They offer industry-standard certification that is nationally recognized.

FEMA offers these checklists and toolkits to make planning and prep run more smoothly. If you’re recovering from a disaster, then the IRS also provides helpful information. The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety provides not only a wealth of highly accessible preparation material but also a handy app for mobile devices.

Last but not least, the National Weather Service is a constantly updated resource which can help you and your business stay one step ahead of the worst.

Conclusion

Being ready for a disaster is simply good business sense. If you were told that an entity exists which could cripple your operations, lower your profits, and endanger client relationships, you would rightly act fast to protect yourself.

Any threat to your business needs to be appraised defensively. Creating and maintaining a disaster recovery plan is a survival step and making use of the Cloud helps make you even more untouchable. It’s the organizations which take preventative measures against a disaster that will recover while others struggle or fail entirely.

While this blog covered disaster recovery across many aspects of a business, take a look at our disaster recovery video which describes what we do as a standard part of voice offering and contact us today so that a disaster doesn’t put you out of business.