SMBs Must Plan Ahead for DisasterThursday, November 17, 2011
Posted by Kyle Thompson
Being Prepared May Help Prevent the Unexpected
By Cindy Bates
Getting a business up and running is no easy task, especially in tough economic times. Many business owners put all of their focus into executing the business plan itself and then into keeping the business running and growing. The prospect of a disaster striking their business might just be a near impossibility only to be considered at a later date, when they have more time to devote to such matters.
Yet, developing a disaster preparedness plan is one of the most critical steps a business owner can take to ensure the success of his or her business, given that disasters do happen all the time and are nearly impossible to predict. Furthermore, the U.S. Department of Labor estimates more than 40 percent of businesses never reopen following a disaster and, of the remaining companies, at least 25 percent will close in two years.
Small and medium-sized businesses (SMB) in particular have a difficult time recovering from disaster, since they lack many of the resources of larger organizations, making it all the more important for them to develop disaster preparedness plans. Therefore, here are a number of areas SMBs should consider when developing a disaster preparedness plan:
Protect business data – Physical and virtual disasters can wipe out or damage IT systems and data. Back up business data, whether by replicating hard drives on a regular basis or leveraging an online backup solution. Online backup solutions make data easily accessible from remote locations and often can safeguard data stored on mobile devices, in addition to data stored on PCs and laptops.
Consider cloud-based software – Businesses that implement cloud-based software programs automatically get the benefit of online data storage, while also reaping many of the other benefits that cloud-based solutions have to offer, such as flexibility; mobility; and affordable, enterprise-grade capabilities. In the event of a disaster, your team can work from anywhere and on any computer.
Keep technology updated – By responding promptly to technology update notices, SMBs can prevent many virtual disasters from ever occurring in the first place. Technology updates generally include security patches that provide protection from the latest digital threats.
Make a communications plan – Decide ahead of time who will be the chief communicator, both to internal and external audiences, when it comes to relaying pertinent information related to the disaster. Also, determine which methods of communication will be used, taking into account such platforms as company websites, blogs and social media channels.
Be ready to meet financial obligations – A disaster might slow down your business’s operations, but certain fiscal responsibilities, such as payroll and regular bill payments, should not skip a beat. Have all financial information, including billing schedules and account numbers, well organized and easily accessible from remote locations to avoid falling behind on financial matters.
Being prepared may even help prevent the unexpected. For more guidance on what it takes to prepare for a disaster, visit www.microsoftbusinesshub.com, for a free e-guide to disaster preparedness.
About the Author:
Cynthia (“Cindy”) Bates is the Vice President of Microsoft’s US SMB Organization. Cindy and her team align Microsoft’s resources across customer and partner engagement to drive success in serving the millions of Small and Medium Sized Businesses in the US, helping them start, grow and thrive by leveraging today’s powerful and affordable technologies.