How to Stop a Disaster (or Even a Computer Failure) from Destroying Your Business

Author: Caron Beesley | September 1, 2015

Did you know September is observed each year as National Preparedness Month? Sponsored by FEMA, the month includes outreach and information aimed at helping businesses and individuals prepare for and respond to emergencies.

Given that an estimated 40% of businesses don’t reopen after a disaster, the month serves as an important reminder about preparedness and business continuity planning. Plan ahead and the chances of getting back to business are substantially increased. It’s common sense right? The problem is, two-thirds (62%) of business owners don’t have an emergency plan in place.

The good news is that there are lots of resources that can help you prepare and recover from “disasters” big and small. Here are just a few:

Organize, plan and test your readiness.
Ready.gov is a great starting point. The site provides concrete, practical steps for developing a preparedness program with an emphasis on the following five pillars:

  1. Organizing your program – Why invest, understand any regulations that apply to your business, organizing program coordinators.
  2. Planning your program, based on specific hazards or risks to your business and their associated impact.
  3. Implementing your program, including resource management, emergency response plans, crisis communications, IT planning, employee assistance, training, and more.
  4. Testing your plan. This is the best way to find weaknesses in your plan and identify workarounds. For example, you might find that there are parts of your plan that don’t work in practice.
  5. Program improvement. Think of these as the lessons learned following an actual incident.

The Red Cross also offers some useful planning tools as part of its free Ready Rating program. Use the 123 Assessment to measure your businesses’ preparedness. Create customized emergency plans and shop for preparedness equipment and supplies.

Don’t forget cyber threats.
Cybercrime can be just as disastrous to a business as a hurricane or flood. According to industry studies, not only are small businesses extremely vulnerable to cyber-attacks – they’re not doing much about it. Check out our tips for protecting your small business data against cyber crime.

Don’t ignore preparedness because you think your business is too small to be impacted.
Preparedness even applies to home businesses, consultants, and freelancers. If you’ve ever had to deal with the disruption caused by a power outage or computer failure, then you’ll understand the importance having a plan and processes in place to ensure your data is protected and backed-up so that you can continue working in the event of a system failure.

After disaster strikes, SBA disaster loans can help you restore things.
If you’ve been a victim of a disaster, the government offers help in the form of SBA disaster loans. These are available to businesses located in a declared disaster area and can be used to repair or replace real estate, personal property, machinery and equipment, and inventory and business assets (up to a value of $2 million). Loans can also be used to protect business property against future disasters of the same type. This online training guide and quick fact sheet explain more.

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