With hurricane season in full swing, many business owners are no doubt aware that they're one major storm away from a major shutdown. And it's not just hurricanes you need to worry about. You never know when a fire, flood, or other disaster might wreak havoc on your business, and the more prepared you are, the better positioned you'll be to come away with minimal damage.
Unfortunately, an alarming 71% of businesses don't have a disaster plan in place, according to data from Office Depot. If yours is one of them, here are some steps you must take immediately.
1. Safeguard key physical documents and equipment
Whether it's computer equipment, inventory, or critical paperwork, all it takes is a single disaster to inflict a world of damage not only on those items but on your business as a whole. That's why it pays to physically safeguard some of your business's most prized possessions. If you maintain inventory in a warehouse, take steps to fireproof or waterproof that facility. If you're looking to protect electronics and paperwork, purchase fireproof and waterproof cabinets or storage units. These products exist for a reason, and it's to protect you from the unexpected.
2. Invest in a standby generator
When the power goes out for days on end at your place of work, your business might have no choice but to shut down. But it doesn't have to. If you invest in a standby generator, you'll have the ability to keep some, if not all, of your equipment running so that you're able to conduct business to some degree rather than get stuck in a frustrating waiting game. Remember, after a major hurricane, it's possible to be without power for well over a week -- and as a business owner, that's the last thing you want.
3. Back up your electronic data
You don't need to experience a flood or fire to lose critical data. Sometimes a simple computer or network glitch can cause important information to disappear out of nowhere. That's why you must get into the habit of backing up your business's data. You can do so by manually scanning copies of important documents and storing them in your email or by arranging for your electronic files to be backed up to a cloud-based service, like Dropbox (NASDAQ:DBX) or even good old Google Drive.
4. Make sure you have the right insurance
All businesses need insurance, but don't be too secure in your policy without reading it from cover to cover. Your policy might, for example, require a separate rider to cover flood damage, so make certain it's adequate, and if it isn't, get a new one. Similarly, if the size of your business has grown or your assets have increased since you last renewed your policy, it pays to do a quick audit and make sure you're covered appropriately.
5. Train your employees
While there are certain steps you as a business owner can take on your own to prepare for a disaster, don't forget that following a crisis, your employees can be a huge asset -- provided you teach them how to be. That's why it's smart to document your business's disaster-recovery plan and circulate it so your workers have access. It also never hurts to run through different scenarios in advance so that your employees know how to respond and react.
You've worked hard to build your business, so don't let a disaster destroy it. Follow these tips to not only protect your venture but buy yourself some much-needed peace of mind.