Most small business owners have so much to think about that disaster preparedness falls somewhere at the bottom of the long list. But when you think of all the things that could compromise your business and it’s data – earthquakes, blizzards, hurricanes, fire and human error – it’s surprising that only 13 percent of small businesses think a data disaster could happen to them. What would you do if your company’s emails, billing records, customer files, inventory reports and tax information suddenly disappeared? If you are unsure, then it’s time to create a data disaster preparedness plan!
Carbonite, a leading provider of cloud solutions, has offered us a few simple tips to help small business owners get started creating a data disaster plan and in interesting infographic on how a disaster can affect your business.
Develop a written plan: Think of your disaster plan as a business plan you can turn to when the worst happens. Your written plan should contain emergency contact information for employees and key external partners, outline the processes that should take place if something happens to your office, and tell everyone how they will be contacted. Print out copies for employees to keep offsite, because the plan won’t do any good sitting on a desk if no one can get to the office!
Designate an alternative site of operation (or two!): Once you’ve figured out who you will contact in an emergency, it’s time to figure out where you can all work if something happens to your primary location. This could be a coffee shop an hour away, an external partners office, or it may make sense for everyone to stay home and work remotely from their living rooms. Let your employees know how you’ll get a hold of them so no one ends up heading into work in an unsafe situation. Email might not be the best option if your server is damaged too, so think about communicating by phone tree or text message.
Review your data protection plan: A Carbonite study found that 81 percent of small businesses say data is their most valuable asset; so make sure your files are included in your disaster plan! Choosing an automatic backup solution that is constantly backing up your most recent files and showing your employees how to access and recover their data will help decrease downtime and losses. In the case of Doug Duncan, a human resources consultant in New Jersey, backing up with Carbonite allowed him to stay in business when Superstorm Sandy ravaged his town in 2012. In spite of not having power for weeks, Doug was able to use Carbonite’s Anytime, Anywhere Access to retrieve all of his files from another computer, and even completed payroll on time!
Do a dry run: All-company meetings can be a drag, but practice makes perfect (and a pizza delivery can help cut down on the eye rolls!). Walk employees through a simulation so everyone has the right contact information, knows where to show up if they can’t get to the office, and can access their important files when they’re away from the office.
When Superstorm Sandy hit the east coast, many small businesses (mine included) learned the hard way how devastating a disaster can be to a business (physically and financially). Being prepared and having a plan in place will give you peace of mind and keep you running without missing a beat.