Thinking about how to plan for a disaster is usually the farthest things from most business owners’ minds during the holidays. Instead, many are focused on maximizing holiday sales to boost year end revenues. However, the winter season often brings some of the most powerful natural disasters, for example, and small businesses are particularly prone to being wiped out by such events, having no means to recover afterwards.
One of the best ways to possibly avoid the permanent damage of a disaster, natural or otherwise, is to plan for it. This is done by writing and preparing a recovery plan. It can include multiple elements, ranging from insurance to where to store materials or data when the main business site is damaged. However, the beauty of a recovery plan is not in what’s included. It’s in having a response path when a disaster does happen. People don’t have time to recreate their systems and resources when things go somewhere in a handbasket. Instead, a recovery plan details the steps to follow, who to contact, and what to activate when needed. That’s far more valuable.
Good information to include in a small business recovery and continuity plan includes:
- Where business data and critical information is stored offsite for quick recovery and how to obtain them.
- All relevant insurance plans and contacts to trigger coverage claims.
- All financial contacts, accounts, and assets as well as location to manage remotely.
- Key business employee contact information as well as secondary contacts.
- Steps on how to reroute customers so the company can keep operating or get back up to speed quickly.
- What facilities will be used temporarily until the business can recovery its physical space again.
- What company services functions can be outsourced temporarily.
- How will communications be replaced and restored during and after the disaster.
All of these elements and related details should be put into writing, similar to a business plan, so that the small business’ key managers and personnel can reference it when necessary.
Writing the recovery plan is not a hard challenge either. If a small business owner is not sure how to go about the process, an experienced disaster recovery freelance copywriter can be brought in to perform the technical drafting. This frees up the business owner to focus on capturing all of the critical elements.
Once the first draft is completed, then it needs to be tested. A recovery plan is not fully usable until a small business can be sure works. This means going through a drill a few times pretending a disaster has occurred. Different disasters can be cooked up causing different restrictions. Testing the plan to see how well the business’ personnel respond and recovery is key. When the plan doesn’t work in certain instances, it should be revised and tested again. With a couple of iterations, a good business continuity plan can be crafted, providing a critical path when a real disaster occurs.
Tom L is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.