Disaster Proofing Your Small Business!

As a business owner you should know how to protect your business. Sure, disaster is a disaster and thus you can’t always avoid it. But there are some strategies that can help every business owner to cope with such situations to the best of their ability.

Below you will find six strategies that you at least should apply. These strategies can help you to save your small business if you start preparing and disaster proofing today!

1. Map Out a Disaster Plan

Many business owners haven’t given it a thought, but every business should have a disaster plan. It’s not only smart, but in many countries it is also required by law to have such a plan (even it is a home-bases business!) So, work up a detailed plan in which you try to take into account as many variables as you can imagine. Whether it as simple as a fire in the business or something that is even harder to prepare for such as a natural disaster of some sorts.

Things you should think about and described in the disaster plan are:

  • How much employees do you have and at what times are they in the building.
  • Where will the employees gather incase of an evacuation. (Pick an easy to recognize place that is a save distance from the business.)
  • Do you need employees that help incase of an emergency? (Mostly done in large businesses with a lot of people. These employees get special training, such as first aid and basic reanimation techniques.)
  • Do we need to hold evacuation drills and how many times a year?
  • Where are the gas shut-off valves located in the business?
  • Where can we shut off electricity in the building?
  • Where can we move merchandise to safety? (Talk with other business owners in the same town and make a plan to help each other out in case of a disaster.)
  • What papers and people do we need to call? What are the phone numbers? (For instance the insurance agent.)
  • And every other thing you can think of.

Write the plan and discuss it with the local fire brigade or city officials.

Tip: make a laminated card with the five most important guidelines what an employee should do in case of an emergency in the business. Give this card to every employee and important to remember is to also give it to new employees!

2. Back Up of Computer Files

Most businesses these days rely on computers and the files/records that are on these computers. Everybody knows that you need backup these files on a regular basis. But many business owners forget that they need to keep these backups in a different place than there business. It is a must! If you don’t do and a fire breaks out in your business, you would not only loose all computers, but also all your backups. A simple thing such as taking them home could save your business one day. (Better is it to hire backup space from a company that specializes in offsite storage space!)

Tip: don’t forget to ask for instance your accountant or attorney how they backup their files. They also could have files that are essential to your business survival in case of a disaster.

3. Physical Papers

Not only backups should be stored on an offsite location, but also physical papers and records need to be stored on an offsite location. You need to at least have copies of you most important physical papers stored in a different location. For instance you could hire a safety deposit box at the local bank to store such things as printed client lists, bills and receipts.

Tip: keep the originals in one map, so you (or an employee) can take them outside easily if a disaster hits your business.

4. Insurance

Keep you insurance up to date. For instance your business has bought a new very expensive piece of equipment. Then you need to make sure that your fire insurance is adequate enough to cover the loss of this piece of equipment. Meet with your insurance agent on a regular basis to make certain that your coverage is up to date. This is especially necessary if you own a home-base business, because your normal insurance may not cover business equipment and/or supplies.

Tip: Spend the extra money to get guaranteed replacement coverage!

5. Tell your Disaster Strategy

Your disaster plan is not a state secret, so let others know what the plan is. After the disaster plan is written you need to discuss it with your employees (on a regular basis.) Maybe they find something that isn’t right in the plan or something that in the past was right, but know the situation changed, thus your plan needs to be adjusted to this new situation.

Tip: Also let your clients know what you will do in case of a disaster. You can even take it a step further and use it in your marketing plan. For example: a hosting company can tell their customers that they have a disaster plane in place and that they make sure that the backup of the clients files are stored offsite.

6. Emergency Cash Reserve

Personal financial experts tell us for years that every family should set money aside for emergencies. This money should be enough for three to six months of living expenses in emergency situations. You should try to do the same for your business. Build a financial business emergency fund that can cover normal business expenses for a couple of months. This will give you the time to again setup your business after a disaster has struck.

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One Response to “Disaster Proofing Your Small Business!”

  1. Read This Link » Disaster Proofing Your Small Business! on January 10th, 2010 04:19

    […] Disaster Proofing Your Small Business! […]