Hurricane season in FL – Time For My 5th Annual Preparedness Guide to Surviving a Business Disaster (no matter where you are located)

I live in Florida, home of hurricanes, crazy drivers and the occasional tornado.  Right now in the tropics Ana and Bill are threatening the leeward islands and threaten to hit the Dominican Republic (where I am currently on vacation) on Tuesday, before moving towards Florida and the Gulf.

Thus every year at about this time, I serve up my annual disaster planning guide.

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.

  • Have a business survival disaster plan in place. Get your department heads involved as stakeholders. Let your employees know what to do in the event of any emergency.
  • Publish a list of all emergency contact numbers for your key personnel and vendors. Include home and cell phone numbers, as well as home email addresses as alternative ways of contact if main communication channels go down. And don’t forget instant messaging and Skype addresses as well as text messages as alternative means to communicate during a disaster.
  • Twitter and Facebook also can be effective tools for communicating with your employees, vendors and customers during times of crisis.
  • Designate someone in your company as chief disaster planning officer.
  • Back up your computers and computer systems regularly. Then back up your backups. Most importantly, keep them off-site. I have five backup drives and all my files backed up on DVDs. 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 on DVDs. I’m one of the fortunate ones in that I lost a little, not a lot.
  • Work with your call center so it can operate if a disaster strikes. If you use an external call center, inquire about its disaster plan.
  • 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).
  • If you host your own website, have a plan in place if you were to lose all power. Find out what your ISP does if it loses its electricity.
  • If your business is in a disaster-prone area, buy a generator.
  • 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 Postal Service and all other vendors.
  • Don’t market into disaster-impacted areas, because they won’t respond. If you’ve already marketed in a disaster-impacted area, adjust your projections downward.

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

Do you have a disaster plan? Feel free to add to this list by posting a comment below.

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