What happens to your business if a disaster hits? For example, what if there is an earthquake or hurricane or tornado (depending on which natural disasters are most prevalent in your area) that shuts off the power to your business for several days, or destroys the building where you’re located? What if there is a fire or flood that interrupts your business operations? What if someone steals your company laptops, or what if there is a power surge that destroys your computers, or some kind of human error or accident that damages your business’s electronics or wipes out your customer data? All of these disasters might sound unlikely, but they happen – and even small businesses can fall victim to unfortunate events beyond their control. This is why it’s so important to have a business continuity plan to keep your business running and preserve your most critical data even in a worst-case scenario.
Unfortunately, many small businesses are vulnerable to the worst-case risks of a natural disaster, fire, flood, robbery or data breach. According to a recent survey from Databarracks, a cloud service provider, only 30 percent of small businesses have a business continuity plan. This is a much smaller percentage than larger companies – for example 54 percent of medium-sized organizations and 73 percent of large companies have business continuity plans in place. Business continuity planning is especially important for small businesses, because smaller companies are much more vulnerable to closing after disasters – according to statistics cited by the Small Business Administration, 25 percent of small businesses do not reopen following a major disaster.
It might sound like business continuity planning is a complicated and stressful endeavor that is only for large companies that can afford to hire expensive consulting firms, but the truth is, it’s easier and more affordable than ever before for small businesses to get help with business continuity and disaster recovery planning. For example, there are a number of cloud-based Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) companies that can back up your business’ data online, giving you immediate access to your company’s files and customer information from any device, no matter what happens to your company headquarters or personal laptop.
Also, the Small Business Administration offers links to a variety of resources that small business owners can use to do business continuity planning and disaster recovery strategy. Good disaster recovery is often a matter of advance planning – give some thought upfront to what the most important aspects of your business are, and what you would need to do to replicate them on a short-term basis. For example, what if your point-of-sale system was broken? Could you take payments using a mobile app like Square instead? What if your business laptop was stolen – do you have all of your files backed up online with a service like Dropbox or Google Drive? How can you stay in communication with your employees and keep people being productive and serving customers even if your business’ office lost power – can you let your employees work from home? What if your retail store was flooded – could you relocate your merchandise to a storage location and concentrate your sales online instead?
It’s also important to keep in mind that your business continuity plan doesn’t have to mean “business as usual” – because there’s no way to think of absolutely everything, and in the event of a disaster, you’re going to be improvising and solving problems on the fly. But you should try to think of as many things as possible that you would want to keep running in the event of a disaster – the key elements of your business – and figure out what it would take to keep your business operating and bringing in money as normally as possible in the event of a disaster or major interruption of operations.
Kabbage Takeaway: Many small businesses are under-prepared for a disaster. Fortunately, there are easy, affordable cloud-based tools for online data backup and business continuity planning. Every business needs to have a basic plan in place for what to do in the event of a disaster in order to get the business up and running as quickly and normally as possible.
Do you have a continuity plan? What tools do you use? Tell us in the comment section below.