Disasters can destroy small businesses. That isn’t hyperbole, either. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), about a quarter of businesses that experience disasters never open their doors again. Of course, FEMA focuses primarily on natural disasters, such as earthquakes and flooding. But those aren’t the only disasters that could impact your company. Cyber-attacks, fires, and even something as simple as an employee losing sensitive documents are disasters from which you need to recover. That’s where your disaster recovery plan comes in, so read on to discover how to optimize your plan (assuming you have one) so it covers every possibility.
Why You Need to Prepare Your Business for Disasters
No business owner ever expects a disaster to strike their company. But that’s what makes disaster recovery plans so crucial – they prepare you for the unexpected.
For instance, did you know that the National Fire Protection Agency estimates that about 3,300 fires occur in office properties annually? Or that hackers launch cyber attacks once every 39 seconds and that 43% of those attacks target small businesses?
Those are disasters waiting to happen, and they can cause just as much damage to your company as flooding, earthquakes, or any other of the natural disasters most think of when they say “disaster recovery.” No matter its source, a disaster can cost your business thousands of dollars to overcome, both in repairing material damage and recovering the documents and data lost. Hence, the need for a disaster recovery plan.
How to Make Your Disaster Recovery Plan More Effective
You may already have a disaster recovery plan in your business.
If so, congratulations. You’re already ahead of the game compared to the 46% of companies that haven’t documented any potential responses to a disaster. But having a plan and optimizing that plan are different things. By using these tips, you strengthen your disaster recovery response or create the foundation of a plan that ensures you’re prepared if the worst happens.
Tip 1 – Start With Prioritizing
Let’s assume your business loses everything in a disaster. What would be the things you’d absolutely need to have to reopen your doors?
The answers to that question are the priorities when forming your disaster recovery plan. For instance, some businesses can’t operate without physical products to sell, which would make getting insurance on your stock a major priority in your plan. Others have compliance issues or hold sensitive customer data, all of which need protecting to ensure they don’t fall foul of regulatory agencies. If that sounds like you, a combination of cloud-based document management and regular backups jump to the front of the priority list.
In short – figure out what’s most important and start with that when creating your plan.
Tip 2 – It’s About More Than Backing Up Data
That mention of backups can be misleading to some business owners.
Many believe that simply backing up every document they create (and every scrap of data they generate) constitutes a disaster recovery plan. It doesn’t. Backing up is vital, make no mistake, but it’s just one component of a multi-layered plan that’s supposed to focus on how to get your business up and running again.
Think about it like this – there’s no point in backing up data if you don’t have the infrastructure to use that data after a disaster.
Your plan must cover the actions you’ll take to replicate your entire environment following a disaster, from rebuilding the office to ensuring you have the hardware in place to start using what you’ve backed up.
Tip 3 – Proactivity Is Your Friend
So much of good disaster recovery revolves around getting ahead of disasters so you never have to recover in the first place. The key is maintenance. Every outdated device, unmaintained piece of software, or even perfectly working piece of equipment can be the source of a disaster if something goes wrong.
Don’t think in terms of “It’s working, so it’s probably fine.” Rather, think, “What could happen if this thing stops working, and what can I do to prevent that occurrence?” By asking that question about every aspect of your workplace, from your equipment to the layout of your office space, you get ahead of disasters before they happen.
Yes, that may mean absorbing more costs, especially if you don’t have a maintenance routine. But those upfront costs are equivalent to insurance policies taken out on your workplace because they can save you from spending much more on bigger issues later.
Tip 4 – Create Emergency Payroll and Accounting Processes
Work may grind to a halt in the wake of a disaster, but one aspect of your business keeps on ticking – the bills.
Your people still need to get paid, as do your vendors, and failing to account for keeping up with your outgoings is often a major issue in disaster recovery. After all, there’s no point in getting your office running again if your vendors have stopped supplying you or, worse yet, your people won’t come back until they get paid.
Going cloud-based is often a solution to these issues.
With cloud-based payroll and accounting processes, you keep the back-office aspect of your business (particularly the financial side) running. And as a bonus, using cloud-based software usually means your people can access what they need from any workstation. That possibility adds an extra layer to your disaster recovery plan because it means at least some of your team have the ability to work from home while you handle office-based challenges.
Put Your Disaster Recovery Plan Into Action
Even the most detailed disaster recovery plan means nothing if it’s not executed in full.
The onus is on you to ensure that happens. For every solution you document to the issues you identify, you have to either put processes in place or find vendors who can aid in your recovery if the worst happens.
JD Young can be one of those vendors.
On the disaster recovery front, we offer several services that preserve the most valuable assets of Tulsa companies. Document Management allows you to digitize paper-based documents so you don’t lose them if a flood or fire occurs. Managed Network Services provides you with the cybersecurity solutions you need to patch up network vulnerabilities. If any of those services interest you, or you’d simply like to discuss how we can help your Tulsa business with its disaster recovery plan, our team is just a message away.