When you're a busy solopreneur, it's easy to become focused on the daily running of your business and forget about long-term and emergency plans. However, disaster planning is critical to keeping your business afloat in the face of fires, floods, storms and other natural disasters.
Are you wondering or concerned about how to plan for such an event? Here are seven tips for creating a simple disaster plan:
1. Compile pertinent information for vital technologies.
To protect against being locked out of all your company's systems and programs after an outage, compile the vital information related to your business hardware, such as servers, routers, hard drives, desktop computers, printers, laptops, smartphones and tablets. Then list all critical applications and programs, including usernames and passwords. Make at least two copies of each list and keep a copy of each in two separate locations.
When disaster strikes, lists make it easier to evaluate and restore hardware and software. Include your software service provider or technology lead's contact info at the top of each page.
2. Create an off-site client contact list.
If a flood, tornado, hurricane or fire destroys your client records, you could face a business fiasco as well as a natural disaster. Make sure your client list — including contact information and relevant details — is copied and saved off-site in electronic and paper form.
3. Identify emergency service and insurance contacts.
Who responds to emergencies in your area? And who's your contact for insurance claims? Make a list of phone numbers for local emergency responders as well as your insurance agency. Include your business address at the top of the page in addition to insurance policy numbers. Consider posting a list in your office but, more importantly, make a digital copy you can access if you're off-site.
4. Establish alternate authority.
Disaster planning should include a provision for an alternate authority in case you're unavailable to get your business up and running. This may be a peer like another professional in your field. Making arrangements for an alternate authority can also keep your business running in the event you suffer a health emergency.
5. Confirm access to order entry and inventory.
If your business includes a storefront office and separate warehouse or storage facility, your disaster plan should contain provisions to manage your order entry and inventory remotely should a natural disaster hit your office.
Having an alternate method to access your order entry and inventory systems (such as through a remote log-in on a cloud-based system) will let you run your business from a location other than your office.
6. Get a cloud-based backup system.
With disaster planning, having critical, sensitive information backed-up in the cloud ensures a copy of your data and systems remains safe even if your building is destroyed. If you're uncomfortable with the idea of a cloud-based environment, consider an off-site server backup, preferably in a different geographic location from your business. After all, storms and floods can cover large cities, regions, and even states. Companies such as Carbonite, IDrive and SpiderOakONE are trusted providers.
7. Choose a disaster communications strategy.
You will need to contact employees, customers and suppliers if a disaster takes place. While widespread natural disasters can disrupt landline phone and internet services, communicating via social media such as Twitter or Facebook on a smartphone may be the best approach.
Good disaster planning means always keeping your plan current. Schedule regular updates of your new devices and passwords to limit the disruption when a natural disaster strikes.