As fast as you can say business disaster, your business can go up in smoke. That's what happened a while back to Castle Carpet One. Gone were thousands of dollars worth of equipment and carpet, plus two smaller businesses that were housed in the same building. Luckily the owners, Larry and Diane Cox, had plenty of business insurance to cover their physical losses. But they lost their most important business asset - customer records - because of failed back up systems. Rebuilding their customer base will be tough and the long-term revenue impact is hard to measure.
With disasters like hurricanes, tornados, fires, floods and terrorism, to name a few, it's critical for small companies to have a disaster plan. And for companies with only one location, it's even more important. One location companies have the potential to lose the entire business if disaster strikes. For a home-based business, it's even worse. You could lose your home and your business in one swoop. Any small business owner can minimize the damage by simply having proactive strategies in place to deal with an emergency when it happens. What if:
* You arrive at your business to find it vandalized and all of your customer records missing?
* Your most critical employee becomes ill and requires an extended absence?
* Your computer hard drive (or network) crashes?
* You become the primary care giver for a sick family member?
* You become ill and can't manage your customer commitments?
* Your business becomes inaccessible because of an emergency on your street?
What would you do?
Would your business survive? What would you grab if you had to leave your business quickly? After the emergency, how would you communicate with your employees? Customers? How long would it take to get back to business as usual?
Without a disaster plan, you'll have a harder time getting back to work. Most businesspeople think it will just take two or three days. That's tough to do if you have no plan for action and little money to move forward. The reality, experts say, is more like several months and at least 25 percent of businesses that experience a disaster never reopen.
But most small business owners just don't make time for planning. We think it's "never going to happen to us." It could. The time to formalize a game plan for an emergency is before it happens. Do it now.
Denise O'Berry is a small business consultant located in Florida. For disaster planning tools and tips, visit http://www.myhurricanecenter.com