Great Ideas for your Small Business: Create a Disaster-Recovery Plan
Nobody likes to talk about the possibility of disaster, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a comprehensive disaster-recovery plan for your business. You may not be hit with a hurricane, tornado, or earthquake, but even a broken pipe or minor fire can temporarily wipe out your business.
Big companies have committees and consultants to deal with recovery planning. Smaller businesses are finally recognizing the need for similar plans, according to Judy Bell, a recovery consultant in Port Hueneme, California. “We see chief financial officers and company auditors wanting to do plans,” said Bell. “People who lease space are also asking their building managers how they can prepare jointly.” Bell, who helped develop disaster-recovery plans for Pacific Bell, said insurance companies are also urging clients to plan for disaster recovery.
Meanwhile, here’s a list of questions to answer to get you started on developing a plan:
- Where would you work if you couldn’t work in the office?
- Can you arrange to share office space with another business?
- How would you reach your clients and customers?
- Do you have a list of every employee’s name, address, and home phone number?
- Do you have copies of your client or customer list at some- one’s home?
- Do you have copies of your invoices and accounts receivable somewhere other than at the office?
- Are all your important business records backed up and stored offsite?
As part of your plan, you should keep important records at your home or in another safe place. This includes tax records, returns, patents, training materials, policy manuals, personnel records, and payroll checks. Put all the pertinent information in a special binder or notebook and give a copy to one or two trusted employees. Be sure to include current phone numbers for your insurance agent, plus policy numbers and copies of your insurance policies.
A list of computer equipment serial numbers is also helpful. Keep an inventory of all your office equipment so it can be replaced in case it’s damaged or stolen.
Before a disaster strikes, develop a plan for exiting your building safely. Install fire extinguishers and schedule a fire drill. Assign people to act as safety monitors.