“It will never happen to me!”—This is a notion that many of us have when it comes to natural disasters. Creating a disaster recovery and business continuity plan may not be a priority for many small and medium business (SMB) owners; however, given recent natural disasters it has certainly become top of mind. Although natural disasters don’t happen very often, it’s a good idea to be prepared so we’ve provided some suggestions for creating a disaster recovery plan.
Tip #1: Compile Separate Contact Lists
SMB owners should keep a list of their key business contacts, which include contact information for all partners, vendors, insurance agents and staff. This contact list should exist in more than one place, and if possible, in both hard copy and digital formats.
“SMBs need more than a single backup of important documents and data from the office.”
Tip #2: Maintain Backups On- and Off-site
As part of a company’s disaster recovery plan, SMBs need more than a single backup of important documents and data from the office. SMB owners should require employees back-up data on a regular basis and also invest in software to automate the process. However, this is the first step in a two-step process. The next step is to create a secondary backup of this data and store it safely off-site. Many businesses have found cloud storage to be an easy and cost-effective solution for off-site backup and storage.
Tip #3: Identify Business Continuity Challenges
SMBs should determine the top three things that would make business continuity difficult or impossible if they were to disappear or were no longer available. For example, could your business operate without internet connectivity, or could you still access files and records during a power outage? This process identifies your business vulnerabilities or weak spots, helping business owners develop a solid business continuity plan to mitigate risks where they are most vulnerable.
After determining business vulnerabilities, SMB owners should take the extra step of envisioning additional scenarios that could impact their plan. This proactive exercise will further strengthen disaster recovery and business continuity plans, because once you know the threats and understand as many potential risks as possible, recovery becomes easier.
Tip #4: Plan Ahead with Partners and Vendors
SMB owners should consider working with their partners and vendors long before disaster strikes. This discussion can outline expectations and capabilities from different parties; for example, if a vendor can provide emergency replacement equipment—such as workstations or a server—or if one can expect immediate access to a line of credit if needed. Owners should also determine if alternative space would be available to set up alternate locations for emergency offices and know ahead of time who to contact should a disaster occur.
It’s important to remember that all SMBs can develop a disaster recovery plan without spending a lot of time or money. Even a simple business continuity plan can lessen the impact of a smaller calamitous event, such as a power outage, fire, flooded offices or a failed hard drive with no backup. By following these tips and making disaster recovery a top priority, SMBs can rest easier knowing they are prepared when and if a disaster happens. Is your business prepared?