When Disaster Strikes: Jim’s 5th Annual Preparedness Guide to Surviving a Disaster

It’s June here in South Florida — ah yes, that wonderful time of year for electrical storms, hurricanes, 100-degree temperatures and 90 percent-plus humidity.   And it’s time for me to publish my annual guide for surviving a business disaster.

Much like a four-letter word, disasters happen in all forms just about anywhere — without warning, at any time. So prepare your company and yourself. Here’s a disaster-readiness checklist I suggest you look over carefully. If you think you’re on top of this, I recommend you compare your list to this one to ensure you have all bases covered.

1. Have a business survival disaster plan in place. Get your department heads involved as stakeholders. Let your employees know what happens if …

2. Publish a list of all emergency contact numbers for your key personnel and vendors. Include home and cell phone numbers, and home e-mail addresses as alternative ways of contact if main communication channels go down. And don’t forget IM and SKYPE addresses, as well as text messages, as alternative means to communicate during a disaster.

3. Designate someone in your company as chief disaster planning officer.

4. Back up your computers and computer systems regularly. Then back up your backups, and keep them off-site. Personally, I have two backup drives and all my files backed up on DVDs. Remember, there are two kinds of computer users: those who have lost data, and those who will lose it. I fall into the first category: Two weeks ago one of my backup drives failed with more than 750 gigabytes of data on it. Luckily, while I lost three-quarters of a terabyte of data, I had almost all of it backed up to DVDs. I’m one of the fortunate ones. I lost a little, not a lot.

5. Work with your call center to make sure it can operate if disaster strikes. If you use an external call center, inquire about its disaster plan.

6. If your call center is on-site, consider hiring a backup call-center staff to field calls in case of emergency (this one saved my client’s bacon a few years ago).

7. If you host your own Web site, have a plan in place if the lights go out. Find out what your ISP does if it loses its electricity.

8. If your business is in a disaster-prone area, buy a generator.

9. If your business isn’t in a disaster-prone area, contact any vendors that are. Disasters, either natural or man-made, can interrupt your workflow with printers, the post office and all other vendors.

10. Don’t mail into disaster-impacted areas, because they won’t respond.

11. If you’ve already mailed and a disaster occurs, adjust your projections downward.

Bottom line for all this, remember my motto (or is it the Boy Scout motto?) ALWAYS BE PREPARED!


One thought on “When Disaster Strikes: Jim’s 5th Annual Preparedness Guide to Surviving a Disaster

  1. Kristen says:

    Hi Jim,

    Thanks for this piece. We (Dukky) is located in New Orleans and understand how important it is to prepare for a disaster.

    Here’s another good resource from the non-profit Operation HOPE:

    It’s an emergency preparedness kit for your own personal finances. As you said, prepare your company and yourself (and your finances.)


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