How to save your business if disaster strikes

Being prepared for a disaster that could seriously affect your business’s ability to continue functioning is an absolute must. You’ll need all hands on deck following the event to maintain cash flow – but foresight is the real key to recovery.

Assess the real risks to your business

Discuss the potential natural and manmade risks to your business with your staff and any advisers. Facilitate a brainstorming session to put all the possible risks to your business on the table. You can then:

  • Begin to create a recovery plan by setting a timeline to encourage progress.
  • Assign staff members responsibility for certain tasks.

Check your insurance entitlements

Insurance can become a significant issue after a disaster. Without the right insurance and enough coverage you could find your business in an uncertain position.

It’s best to become familiar with the fine print and conditions of your policy before an emergency happens.

Put together a recovery plan now

Your recovery plan should detail how you plan to mitigate the effects of a disaster, and how you intend to quickly rebuild your business following the event. Work through (with your staff) the likelihood of various events and how you can keep your business operational.

Make sure you have multiple copies of your recovery plan in different locations, including online where it should be available if your physical workplace becomes inaccessible.

Lay out some disaster recovery measures

Rather than waiting until it’s too late, start putting disaster recovery measures into place now. For instance, you could:

  • Talk to your insurance broker about your business’s needs – discuss the types of natural disasters that are most likely to occur. For example, if you live in an earthquake prone area, check the small print to be certain earthquake-related disasters are covered.
  • Ensure staff can work remotely if necessary – make sure they have access to files, documents, software and hardware from home in case your workplace is off limits.
  • Regularly take photos of your business’s assets for insurance purposes – to back up your receipts and to show the current condition of your assets.

Improve workplace safety

If there are fewer injuries during a disaster, your business will be able to recover faster. Put some simple details in place so your employees are as safe as they can be. For example, it’s smart to:

  • Secure office furniture and equipment.
  • Restock first aid kits – and make sure your staff are well trained in using them.
  • Check emergency exits are safe and usable.
  • Install smoke alarms and sprinklers.
  • Set up a back-up generator.

Safeguard your business’s cash flow

How do you deal with cash flow when a disaster causes you to temporarily shut down your business?

For your business to survive you’ll need to track down your employees. Put measures in place to make the post-disaster situation a little easier so your staff can really help the business to maintain cash flow and productivity.

For example, having a plan for your employees’ transport and their kids’ daycare (and allowing flexible work schedules) could all come in handy following a disaster.

Keep your customers and suppliers informed

Make sure your customer database is up-to-date with email and mobile phone details so you can keep in close contact.

If supplies or services will be disrupted, try to give your customers a clear picture of the extent of the problem and when you expect to be able to deliver.

If your business has been forced to relocate, let your customers know where you’ve moved.

Set up the right security

At times of crisis, you’ll want to have the best security available to keep your online and computer hard drive information safe.

If a burglary occurs (or a disaster leads to looting), the future of your business might depend on the level of security of your data or critical information. Some precautions you could take include:

  • Carrying out a data assessment – by analyzing which files are high value and heavily used. You can then prioritize which ones to keep secure.
  • Encrypting sensitive data – to help prevent security breaches.
  • Regularly backing up your data – by securely storing it in a hosted cloud environment.

Next steps

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