Can Your Business Recover From a Catastrophic Event?
These steps can help save your business should the worst occur.
As the recent East Coast earthquake and hurricanes remind us, a catastrophic event can happen at any time, and it can devastate your small business if you're not prepared. Unfortunately, many people think they won't be affected by such a disaster and don't take the necessary precautions.
In September 2009, an article in The New York Times stated, "Every business should have a comprehensive disaster recovery plan. Although it's always best to have a complete plan, it's better to have a few crucial pieces than nothing at all. So even if you can't do everything, do something."
ChamberOfCommerce.com and the Small Business Administration offer these helpful tips to help get you going:
- Assemble an emergency kit. Creating an emergency kit is vital, because in the event of a disaster, aid from relief organizations might not be immediately available. Make sure to include the following items: garbage bags, battery-operated radio, cash, digital camera, a supply of batteries, tool kit, towels and blankets, medical supplies, canned food, bottled water, toilet paper and paper towels.
- Videotape your inventory. Taking a video inventory of your business assets can be very helpful when filing a claim. It will also help you resume business more quickly after a disaster.
- Update your insurance policy. Review your insurance policy to make sure your coverage is up to date. If necessary, add flood insurance and consider adding business interruption insurance, which can help cover some bills if your business is affected by a catastrophic event.
- Plan escape routes. Locate escape routes and employee meeting places at the office. Practice evacuation drills so that all workers know what to do in an emergency. Note emergency phone numbers. Assign someone, preferably in a different state, to be the designated contact person who will assist with distributing crucial information about resources, temporary relocations, etc.
- Note vital jobs and equipment. Know your critical employees and their job titles. Also, take note of your most important equipment. Should a disaster occur, relocate crucial staff members and appropriate replacement equipment to an office in a safe location.
- Store computer files off-site. Make sure to store computer files safely off-site, such as with an online storage provider. This service is fairly inexpensive and will ensure access to your computer files, as well as give you peace of mind, should a disaster occur.
- Get free resources. Free professional help to assist with disaster planning is available from the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, which offers an online tool kit; your insurance company; business consulting services; and the Small Business Administration, which offers valuable tips on catastrophe planning.
According to Small Business Bonfire, industry experts have estimated that 25 to 40 percent of small businesses do not recover after a disaster. If you prepare today, there's less chance that your business will become part of this unfortunate statistic. The New York Times advises that if you're too busy or require help in creating a disaster recovery plan, consider hiring a professional. It could possibly save your business.