Preparing for Disaster: Making a Business Continuity Plan

Did you know that over 50% of small businesses don’t reopen their doors after a disaster?

Today’s topic is a bit different than our usual topic. We often cover what to do if your home is struck by disaster… but what about your business? Business disruptions can happen abruptly and unexpectedly. Having a continuity plan in place to keep your business flowing can reduce the risk of having to shut down in the wake of a disaster.

Commercial disaster restoration

An ideal business recovery and continuity plan should: 

  • Minimize long-term interruptions
  • Reduce the severity of a disruption
  • Lessen financial loss
  • Expedite restoration services
  • Prevent you from closing your doors permanently

To help cover all these areas, use the following tips:

  1. Designate a team — The best ideas don’t come from an individual mind. Putting together a preparedness and response planning team to strategize will help come up with the ultimate list of what processes and assets need to be maintained for business to continue during a disaster and put together realistic recovery strategies for each component. 
  2. Assess threats — Identify potential threats, including natural disasters like fires, floods, earthquakes, and even hurricanes.  The odds of a catastrophic natural disaster occurring is fairly slim, but there are plenty of other threats, such as a power outage, data breach, or equipment malfunction. Your list of threats should be determined by your location and the types of assets your business has. 
  3. Gather contact information — Depending on the event, you will likely need to contact some people to keep them informed. Your contact lists might include staff (and their emergency contacts), customers, your business’s insurance company, financial institutions, reputable disaster restoration companies and other vendors.  
  4. Identify essential staff and inventory — Once you make a list of staff, it’s a good idea to identify which jobs are crucial to keep the business functioning. Then, determine what equipment and supplies each of those people need to perform their job. This could be a computer, desk, phone, or even something like a server and software. 
  5. Determine ways to protect and access the company’s data — One of the most valuable and overlooked assets is data. Important data and sensitive information should be backed up on a regular basis and stored on a cloud-based platform as well as a reliable external hard drive. That way, you don’t lose data, and you can access it during recovery efforts. 
  6. Determine an off-site location where staff can work — For the staff that you determined crucial to the function of business who must work post-disaster, it’s important for everyone to know where to meet. Make sure it’s a place that has multiple routes, in the case that the most common route is blocked off. 
  7. Create an emergency preparedness kit for your office — Much like your home emergency kityour business kit should include essentials that can help your staff, customers, and business survive a disaster, with items such as food, water, copies of your business continuity plan, flashlights, batteries, first aid kits, tool kits, and battery-powered radios. 
  8. Practice your plan — It’s a good idea to run this plan over with your team, not only for practice but so that you can find flaws. With regular practice, your team will feel more confident about what to do if a disaster does strike. Lastly, make sure all staff members have a copy of the plan, so they can review as needed. 

Sustaining business after being hit by a disaster is never easy, but with a proper business continuity plan in place, your business is more likely to survive and reopen its doors once again.  

Did you know, ServiceMaster of Tacoma is a designated Commercial Response Team (CRT)? This means that we can work with your business before a loss ever happens, to come up with a pre-loss recovery plan tailored for your business’s unique needs. Want to know more? Contact us to set up an appointment.