Q & A: Does Small Business Need a Disaster Plan?

Again I had several questions regarding “crisis planning“, “disaster planning“, “data-security” and “data-backup“, so I will cover all of them in this post.

When I started thinking about WinWeb’s Small Business Infrastructure, we always knew we had to do something about data-security and data-backup. The truth of the matter is that most small business and start-up business, like SOHO-, SME, SMB-, Micro-, Lifestyle-, Home-, DIY-, Hobby-, Boomer- or Personal business, like professional, contractors, freelancer, self-employed, sole-trader and virtual assistants, do not have a coherent data-security and back-up strategy. To be perfectly blunt about the subject, it is not made easier by confusing technology and more to the point terminology, that even we have difficulty understanding some time. So I believe:

We should not expect business start-ups and small business in general to be accountants, bookkeepers, IT specialist, lawyers, marketing & PR gurus and so on. We should provide small business with an infrastructure in which it can concentrate on core business tasks, while at the same time enabling the business owner to stay informed of all relevant business facts like cash flow, sales, HR issues, tax position and more. This will enable him / her to make informed decisions, maybe with the help of an external advisor.

I formulated at the beginning that one of the benefits of using WinWeb’s OnlineOffice would be:

No security problems. No business interruption problem.
Your data is continuously backed up onto multiple RAID-5 data servers in multiple physically and network secure data centres – if that is not enough you can make a copy of your data anytime onto your PC or a CD. Should your computer crash or get stolen – no problem, just log on to another computer and keep working – can your competition do that?

So that takes care of the data security and back-up problem. To give you a little example, one of our clients is a web-designer for a niche market, he lives in an area which was flooded earlier in the year. His computer equipment gone, but all his data, addresses, email and work was safely stored in our OnlineOffice. He moved to his parents for a time and was back working within a few hours – not everybody was that lucky.

A burglary or fire would do the same – and can be dealt with quiet easily. This is not so easy when you have a business that manufactures goods, even when you do it from the kitchen table, you will incur “business interruption“. You will need a plan for that too – insurance may be the first step.

But loosing customers and with that revenue is not something an insurance is going to cover you for. So you need to plan ahead, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is there somewhere else I could work from temporarily? Parents, friends, short term office hire, etc.
  • How long until I can get my raw-materials again? Maybe you should require your supplier to get a certain amount in stock for you, make a contract.
  • Could you hire machinery until you can replace your own? Find suppliers now.
  • Could my staff work from home if necessary? Online technology will help with that.
  • Could I outsource some work temporarily? Have a look at virtual assistants in your area.

There are other questions you could ask yourself, just take 30 minutes, get a piece of paper and imagine your business, office, house, kitchen just burned down – trust me – the questions will come, and so will the answers. Oh, just to mention it, a disaster plan in a burned out house is of no value to anyone, keep it online or safe elsewhere.

Answer: YES, a small business needs a disaster plan, just like any other business. ST.

Disclaimer: As with any of my readers questions, I do not have all the answers and here on my blog I can only give you some ideas, since I know very little about your small business. If any of you can add anything here do so for the benefit of my reader, who asked the question and everybody else, leave a comment below – I’d be most grateful.

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