With images of the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy and deadly Oklahoma tornadoes still fresh in our minds, you’d think disaster recovery planning would have risen to the top of everyone’s to-do lists. But despite the widespread and long-term devastation that natural disasters cause for consumers and businesses alike, a recent survey says that most small business owners are still not prepared.
FedEx and the American Red Cross teamed up for the survey that says that 70 percent of small businesses don’t consider themselves at risk for experiencing a similar disaster in the future, and fewer than 10 percent report taking any disaster preparedness actions post-Sandy. Even those directly affected by Sandy or other disasters apparently don’t believe something similar is likely to happen again, at least in the next few years.
Even with an outlook some would say is unrealistic, the good news is that over half the small businesses surveyed reported that they have some sort of plan in place that will enable them to stay up and running after a disaster. Nearly all the plans center around technology and preserving data through data backup and server recovery. But it’s the other half—without plans—that are in the most jeopardy.
Even with the proper preparation, natural disasters can be costly. Over the past decade, there has been more than $2.4 trillion in economic and insurance losses caused by a natural disaster. So, just how expensive can these events be?
FedEx and the Red Cross are offering tips on disaster preparedness—one of the most important strategic decisions they say a small business owner can make. Be sure to check them out. The tips include everything from having necessary safety equipment to having a written emergency plan that has detailed steps for continuity of operations.
The Red Cross also offers a free Ready RatingTM program to help all kinds of organizations, businesses included, prepare for disasters and emergencies with tools, resources and information. Organizations who take advantage of the program can improve their ability to withstand disaster, maintain operations and protect lives and property. Click here for more information and to join the program.
We’re all guilty of the It can’t happen here syndrome. But, experts say small businesses should be looking at three broad questions: (1) What are we going to do if disaster strikes? (2) Once a disaster or emergency has occurred, how will we assess the damage and take the necessary steps to get back up and running? (3) How do we plan for the next disaster?
The FedEx-Red Cross survey found that the majority of businesses focus on data security and recovery. But looking at What if scenarios needs to encompass more—things like an evacuation plan, backup power, and physical security. What can you put in place now that could help you ride out a natural disaster? Can you team up with some other small business owners to plan or even put a collective or neighborhood plan in place? What about employees—do you have a policy for time off and/or getting paid during a recovery period? And don’t forget your customers. They may be depending on you more than ever during and after a disaster. You need to let them know not only that you’re prepared but also how and where to access you in the event of a disaster.
Don’t be overwhelmed by the need to create a plan. There’s a lot of valuable information out there, geared specifically towards small businesses. To help get you started, check out The Data Center Journal. It offers strategies for formulating a sensible disaster recovery plan. Included are a disaster recovery (DR) template to help you set priorities and identify key roles for employees in a disaster, as well as a step-by-step process for creating and implementing your plan. Don’t wait another day. Experts say the next disaster is a matter of when not if.
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