Extreme weather is unpredictable and can have a major impact on businesses of all sizes. According to FEMA, 40-60% of businesses never reopen their doors following a disaster, often due to the lack of emergency preparedness.
With hurricane season here, it’s important for business owners to take emergency and small business continuity planning seriously and prepare for damage well before a storm is on the radar. Tackling a disaster recovery outline may seem overwhelming, so we’ve put together the questions below to help you determine the action plans your business must complete to prepare, stay safe, and respond.
What are the main risks?
Before you can develop a plan for your business, you need to understand the risks that your business faces as a result of a natural disaster. Take time to understand your business’ risks by performing the following steps:
- Assess your location to gain a better understanding of which natural disasters are most likely to affect your business.
- Audit your business systems and processes. Identify which systems are most important to your operations and must be protected and recovered first.
- Create a checklist of major risks to your critical systems and how you plan to address them after a disaster. A pre-written checklist can help you to keep your priorities straight, even while under high stress from the situation.
What assets are the most vulnerable to damage during a natural disaster?
After assessing the risks, you should then identify your most important assets that would be vulnerable to damage during a disaster. For example, if a hurricane were to strike, a business on the bottom level of a building could experience water damage to important documentation. You could also experience Internet downtime if you’re dependent on terrestrial Internet options.
How would you safeguard the assets identified in Question 2 and ensure small business continuity?
Using the preceding example, your business may mitigate document-related risks by keeping important files at an offsite location or storing digital copies on a secure cloud server. Another example is having a backup Internet connection to avoid costly downtime. Having a satellite Internet backup, for example, can help keep Internet continuity and maintain connectivity for businesses recovering from a disaster.
To minimize damage, make sure that your insurance policies are up to date and readily available so that you aren’t forced to restart from scratch after a disaster. This includes renters or property insurance and insurance plans for your equipment and important company assets.
Does your business have a disaster recovery outline?
A comprehensive disaster recovery plan includes actions you should take when faced with different natural disasters, contact information for stakeholders and support services, and evacuation protocols. This plan also includes steps to take following the event to help your business recover and stabilize.
Did you share the plan with key stakeholders and test it?
Make sure to share your disaster recovery outline with all internal stakeholders and employees to help ensure that everyone is prepared. Review the plan in real time and ask for your team’s feedback to improve and build upon missing information or information that needs to be changed. After this, it’s important to test your plan to identify any gaps or problems during execution.
Does your business have a disaster team?
A disaster team is a group of employees who help create, implement, and maintain a disaster preparedness and recovery plan. Each member on the team should have specific roles to ensure the proper implementation of the disaster plan.
Do you have an emergency communication method in place?
When thinking about emergency preparation, it’s important to keep organizational communication at the forefront of the planning process. Having an emergency notification system in place is one way to ensure your organization can communicate if the unexpected occurs. An emergency notification system is a platform that broadcasts an alert or message to one or multiple groups of people to notify them of an emergency. If your business is in the market for an emergency notification system, check out our post to learn more about which factors to consider.
Natural disasters can bring a lot of uncertainty to the table, but you can have peace of mind knowing that you’ve taken the time to prepare for the worst. Even if you don’t plan out every contingency, answering these questions will go a long way in keeping your business safe.