Are you Prepared to be Under Water?

Posted on: May 23, 2014

Business Continuity Planning

June 1st marks the official start of hurricane season.  Heavy rains associated with tropical storms and hurricanes can put your business under water figuratively and literally.  Is your business emergency ready?  Even if our luck holds in Central Florida and we don’t see any named storms, a number of other natural or manmade disasters can severely disrupt your business.  From floods and fires to terrorism and cybersecurity issues, businesses today must be prepared for all hazards.

An estimated 40 percent of businesses never reopen after a major disaster.  Nearly 80 percent of businesses that do not recover from a disaster within one month are likely to go out of business and 75 percent of businesses without a continuity plan fail within three years of a disaster.  Small business owners invest a tremendous amount of time, money, and resources on their businesses, yet most do not plan for disasters.  One of the most devastating losses in disasters isn’t property, it is data.  

According to recent studies, 70 percent of small businesses that experience a major data loss go out of business within one year.  Of those companies that experience catastrophic data losses, 43 percent never reopened.  We hope that your business never encounters a natural or manmade disaster, but we want to help you be prepared.  Insurance provides coverage for your physical assets, but it does not cover data loss, customer relationships or your business history. 

Here are a few key areas to consider when developing your business continuity plan:

People

  • Family First – Help your employees prepare their homes and families by offering them planning resources. When they can assure the safety of their family and property, they are better able to help you prepare and recover.
  • Contacts – Be sure your employee, customer and supplier contact records are up to date and securely stored offsite. Be sure to have phone, email and physical addresses.
  • Suppliers – Let them know if your business has suffered a disaster. They don’t want to lose your business.
  • Your Customers – Keep them informed. Notify them that you’re closed and let them know when you reopen.

Assets

  • Go Offsite – Plan for an alternative work area until your place of business is ready.
  • Backup Frequently – Back up computers and servers frequently and keep a copy offsite and in The Cloud. (This is your history, your client relationships, your suppliers, insurance, banking, deliveries, etc.)
  • Be Secure – Make arrangements now to secure your premises for short and long-term vacancies.
  • Assess Operational Needs – What equipment and supplies do you need? From pencils and paper to computers, phones, tables, chairs, lights, air conditioning and heating, plumbing and machines or appliances.
  • Prioritize – What comes first? You don’t want to get new furniture in the building before the roof is replaced.

Business Processes

  • Essential Functions – Document the processes and functions of all employees and the skills needed for each position. Cross train employees on multiple positions.  Include your training processes in your documents.
  • Leadership – Be sure your chain of command goes at least four layers deep or prepare for leadership to operate remotely.
  • Communication – In the case of a disaster, who does what? Decide in advance who should be speaking to emergency management personnel, media and your stakeholders (customers, suppliers, etc.)
  • Supply Chain – Document your suppliers and how they affect your business. Shipments, deliveries, supplies, materials, computer recovery and utilities.
  • Finance & Insurance – Now is the time to examine your insurance policies.  Are you covered for all cases of business closure and income loss in addition to your property coverage? Now is also a good time to complete a cash reserves assessment. Do you know what your monthly burn rate is? What cash and resources will be needed to “re-start” your business?
  • Test Your Plan – Test your plan with your employees BEFORE a disaster occurs. Until you have exercised your plan, you have no idea if it will work or make things worse.  Table top exercises are a great way to test your plan.

Disaster Preparedness and Disaster Recovery Resources:

FEMA www.fema.gov/protecting-your-businesses
Resources and training to help protect your home and business.

Ready.govwww.ready.gov/business
Includes American Red Cross Ready Rating to assess your disaster readiness.

Florida Division of Emergency Management www.floridadisaster.org/DEMbusiness.asp
Cybersecurity resources through SecureFlorida.org, evacuation zones, and business insurance basics.

Marion County Emergency Managementmarionso.com/emergency-management-bureau/
Marion County Comprehensive Emergency Plan, Preparedness guides, weather and storm alerts, and Emergency Management Volunteer Programs.

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