5 Ways to Prepare Your Small Business for a Disaster

Getting a business up and running is no small task, and small business owners are some of the most determined, hard working people out there, often pouring unthinkable hours and resources into the success of their ventures. Unfortunately, though, it’s small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) that often suffer the most when disasters strike, since they don’t have the same range of recovery resources at hand as their larger counterparts, and often don’t have a disaster preparedness plan.

Yet, with proper planning and the right technology investments in place, SMBs can withstand both physical and virtual disasters and encourage business continuity, even during disaster recovery. Consider the following as you develop or refine a plan to prepare your business for disaster.

Data Backup

Determine how you will safeguard all important data stored on your hard drive. You might wish to invest in an online backup solution that will make data easily accessible during disaster. Or you can regularly replicate your hard drive with a detached disk drive, always making sure to remove the disk drive from the premises each night in case a physical disaster occurs after office hours.

Cloud-Based Software

Many SMB owners have found that cloud-based software solutions alleviate storage and backup concerns, since they enable individuals to store information in a secure, offsite location and access it from nearly any device. With productivity programs like Office 365, employees can access e-mail, important documents, contacts and calendars anytime, anywhere and conduct business as usual, even after a physical disaster occurs.

Technology Updates

Those reminders that frequently pop up on your computer screen to update your technology could be your lifeline to preventing a virtual disaster from occurring in the first place. Technology updates often include security patches necessary for the health of your network, so maintain vigilance when it comes to keeping your technology updated.

Money Management

Though disaster might interrupt your regular rhythm of business for a while, you’ll still need to pay your bills on time, make payroll, etc. Ensure you have account and contact info easily on hand, and also guarantee that your financial management system is backed up properly. Don’t forget that vendors will still need to be paid, even if you’re out of the office.

Communication Methods

Every business has internal and external audiences that will need to know about the ways a disaster has impacted the organization. Determine ahead of time the method of communication you’ll use with each audience, who will convey important information, in what order, etc.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, more than 40 percent of businesses never reopen following a disaster and, of the remaining companies, at least 25 percent will close in two years. However, by developing a disaster preparedness plan, testing your disaster recovery plan, and implementing technologies that support business continuity, you will help your business withstand the unexpected.

Is your business prepared?

Download and take this readiness quiz (PDF) to see how prepared your business is for a disaster. Then head over to the Microsoft site to download this free disaster preparedness e-guide.

Image credit: katman1972

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Cindy Bates
Cindy Bates is the vice president of Microsoft's US SMB Organization where she is responsible for the company’s end-to-end SMB sales and marketing efforts, including SMB strategy, business development, regional field sales and national distribution sales, channel marketing and customer marketing. Cindy also contributes to her own blog as part of the Microsoft Business Resource Center.


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  1. Thanks for reminding everyone about the necessity of backup! Disaster recovery planning is often times an afterthought that comes to light when disaster strikes. To backup data to cloud storage powered by Amazon S3 you can check out CloudBerry Backup. What safer place to keep your files than Amazon’s servers? It is onetime fee and the rest what you pay for Amazon S3. Besides, there is no proprietary data format and you can access your data using other Amazon S3 tools. It supports all AWS regions, Reduced Redundancy Storage and access to cloud storage using the virtual drive.

    CloudBerry Lab team

  2. Pingback: 5 Ways to Prepare Your Small Business for a Disaster | Everything you need… | Scoop.it

  3. Pingback: This Week in Entrepreneurship November 4, 2011 | She's Self-Employed

  4. Relying on cloud-based software is a good way to ensure redundancy for important documents and should become moreso as web apps become more robust. It’s kind of funny, though…early internet connections relied on querying a main terminal and pulling data from it, then we moved away from that, and now we’re moving back towards it again. Kind of an interesting oscillation.

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