Small business owners wear many hats. They are marketers, IT specialists, inventors, accountants, security experts, website designers, human resources, and much more. There are so many different things to think about every single day, so it is little wonder that occasionally, something gets overlooked. For many businesses, that is a plan for what you would do to get your business back up and running after a disaster strikes. Almost three-quarters of small business owners do not have a written disaster recovery plan. While it is something that you hope you never have to use, having one in place is imperative.
Depending on where your business is based, hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, and fires are just some of the things that pose a risk to your company and your livelihood. Here, we look at some of the things that you can do to mitigate the risk, and if the worst should happen, what you can do to get back on your feet as soon as safely possible.
Before a disaster strikes
Every person within your company has a role to play and responsibilities to handle, but often these can become blurred. It is important to note down in your disaster plan and make sure every person is aware of their responsibilities, and should there be a disaster, they know what they need to do.
Back up documents
The last thing that you want to do when your premises have been damaged or destroyed, or if conditions have made it unsafe to travel is to have to worry about finding out important documents. It is essential that you have at least one copy of all your relevant documents – insurance details, inventories, employee details, etc. Store these somewhere secure, and that is easily accessible.
Install security cameras
These might be damaged in the event of a disaster, but they are still worth having in to see what happened. They may be useful if you have to claim on your insurance as well.
Have secondary power sources available
Sometimes, the whole premises might not be damaged or destroyed, but the electrics blow or a storm knocks out your power. Give yourself a chance of trading, or at least make sure anything that relies on electricity such as fridges, freezers, tanks for animals etc. are kept running and protect your stock by having a secondary source of power available, such as industrial engines and generators.
For both stick purposes and insurance purposes, an inventory is essential. Where possible, keep receipts and invoices as you may be asked to hand these to insurance companies as proof of costs, but having an up to date inventory of stock, machinery, and equipment is useful.
When a disaster strikes
Inform your employees
One of the first things that you need to do is inform any employees who might be due to work that day so that they know exactly what to expect. It is important to have a contact list accessible at all times. You also need to have a contingency plan fr paying your staff – it is vital that you try to keep paying staff as normally as possible, as you may find that you do not have a workforce when you are back up and running.
You may need to work remotely for a while, as may your staff. Ensure that you have access to the technology and tools you need – this is where cloud services are a good idea, as you and your team can access any documents required to continue working from anywhere in the world. Ensure that any confidential information is encrypted to prevent any hacks in the transfer of information – the last thing you want to be dealing with at this point is a huge data breach!
Let your customers know
Your customers keep your business going, so it is imperative to let them know what is going on as soon as possible. Pop a note on the door if it is safe or appropriate to do so, informing them of the situation and when you expect to be open again, as well as any contact details. Put a note on your website and a post out on your social media platforms.
Talk to lenders
If you have any loans or finance on anything, talk to your lenders and creditors. In a situation such as this, many will be willing to work with you to give you a payment holiday and catch up when things are back to normal, but if you don’t ask, you won’t get!
You can’t stop a disaster from happening, but the steps you take to prepare for one and how you deal with it afterwards can make the situation a little less stressful and get you back up and running as soon as possible.