If you’re operating without a safety net for your small business, you may be playing with fire. Prudent small business owners have a disaster recovery plan in place to minimize risk from unexpected situations. Fire, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, floods or even just a computer virus can affect your small business. A disaster recovery plan will help you recover from the unexpected.
The first priority after a disaster situation is the people connected with the business. This includes all employees, family and customers. After all people connected with your business are safe and out of danger, your employees must know how to continue performing their jobs.
You have several options for backing up your data – utilizing more than one method of backing up business data may be the most prudent way to ensure that your information is completely secure. Cloud storage – storing your data virtually over the Internet – provides an effective storage resource. Make additional copies of files and data on an external hard disk and store the hard disk in another location to ensure that you have a viable copy of your data.
Chain of Command
Create a chain of command so employees know who to report to directly in an emergency situation. Provide every employee with specific contact information for reporting to someone else within your business. The reporting continues up the chain until all employees report either directly or indirectly to you as the business owner. Appoint someone you trust to act in your behalf if you are not able to function. Ensure each employee understands how the chain works and understands responsibilities.
Record complete contact information for all employees, customers, suppliers, vendors, service providers and financial institutions. Store this contact information in at least two different locations, preferably three different locations. Keep a hard copy away from your place of business and electronic copies of this data on your business computer and an external hard disk.
Record Business Operations
Write out every operational process that occurs within your business and store these documented processes in at least two different locations. This includes payroll processes, sales, production and service. Include employees involved in each process as well as their responsibilities and duties. Note other employees who have the training to perform each duty, even if these employees do not perform the duties as a regular part of their employment.
Test Your Recovery Plan
Test your disaster recovery plan at least twice each year to ensure that employees understand the process. After testing the entire plan, evaluate its effectiveness. If you found weaknesses or areas that did not function smoothly, make changes and then test your plan again.