Is your business prepared for a disaster?

Whether your business was impacted today by a tornado or a citywide power outage or something else altogether, knowing your “readiness” is part of being in business. Uncommon but perfectly possible crises represent real risks and, at the very least, you have to know what you would do in each situation.

More importantly, what will your employees do in these cases? What will your clients do? Being prepared for a disaster doesn’t just mean avoiding it if possible. Being prepared also means knowing who will do what after a disaster strikes, because at some point it will.

Learn now: is your business prepared for a disaster?

Ask yourself one question first: what disaster would pose the biggest risk to your business?

For example, a business with extremely sensitive client information might face higher risks from a data breach than from a natural disaster. A natural disaster will shut down that business’s operations and can destroy local servers and hardware, but if that company operates in the cloud, its data would still be safe. A breach, on the other hand, could compromise its clients and its business reputation irreparably.

If you aren’t sure which is the biggest risk for your business, list out your vulnerabilities. Cross-compare your notes and determine which disaster would be the greatest risk to you with the specific vulnerabilities your business has.

Common disasters that impact different businesses in different ways include:

  • Fire
  • Local storms (tornadoes, hurricanes, etc.)
  • Expansive power outages
  • Cyberattacks

How to Plan

Planning for your “highest risk” disaster involves answering:

  1. What the immediate response is for you, for your employees, and for your clients
  2. What the long-term business continuity plan will look like

The immediate response for most physical disaster threats is safety-focused. If a tornado touches down, where does everyone in the building take cover? If there’s a fire, where are the emergency exits?

When it comes to protecting on-site assets, most businesses today perform 50-99% of their work on digital technologies. This means that hardware should be part of the conversation when planning the “what ifs” of a disaster, but under no circumstances at the cost of physical safety.

Then, to develop a business continuity plan, first determine the roles of each person at your organization. One person will be the “owner” of the business continuity plan to delegate tasks when disaster strikes. That person should be an active part of developing the continuity plan.

Ensure your plan covers:

  • IT recovery
  • Customer communications
  • Updated job descriptions for business continuity-specific tasks
  • Timelines and targets for returning to business as usual

Once you finish planning your response and approach for your highest-risk disaster, repeat the same exercise for other possible (if unlikely) disasters.

Disasters of all kinds can wreak havoc on a business, especially a small business with only one location.

Only half of small and medium businesses in the country have disaster recovery plans today, though, meaning only half are even partially prepared for a disaster.

Ask yourself the hard questions today to uncover your own disaster preparedness, then get to creating your plan.