Smart business owners often consider the risks to their business and prepare accordingly, but many of them fail to think about the risks associated with weather. With the start of hurricane season, it is important to think about the risks a potential hurricane could cause your business. While the degree of those risks will vary from location to location, it is still important to never underestimate a large storm and to have a plan in place for the months of June through November.
With the increase in natural disasters recently, a severe hurricane isn’t unheard of. Businesses are far from immune to these disasters and should therefore be prepared. While it is impossible to control the weather, you can control what the final outcome of a disaster will be for your business.
What Should You Expect?
According to the weather experts at Colorado State University, we should expect about 9 hurricanes this 2013 season, with 4 of them being categorized as 3 or higher. If you are like most businesses, you may not have an office that can successfully withstand the power of a major hurricane. And even if your office stays standing, there will be water and wind damage to deal with. If most of your data is stored in your computer or some other electronic backup within your store, what are the chances it will get destroyed and lost forever?
Are You Prepared?
As a result of Hurricane Sandy in October of 2012, about half of the small businesses that were hit lost revenue. Of those businesses, 75 percent needed to close their doors for at least one day, and 44 percent of them closing for over a week. The total cost of the damage Hurricane Sandy caused was estimated at 60 billion dollars. With the hurricane season here, and the prediction that we are to expect some heavy storms, can your business weather the storm?
For businesses that operate mostly online, worrying about the structure of their storefront is a non-existent problem. However, if the hurricane results in a major power outage, online businesses will be forced to find an alternate power supply and Internet sources.
Business Continuity, are you ready?
The risks for every business will vary, depending where they are located and also if they are a brick and mortar store, a commercial office or an online business. However, there are some guidelines that can likely help all of them during the hurricane season.
- Have a Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP). Your DRP will document what will happen in the event of a major disaster. Take into account your business’s individual needs. Do you need a way to get online ASAP? Do you need a way to store perishable food? Consider every aspect of your business and plan for the worst.
- Keep your DRP safe. Put your plan in writing and keep it in a safe place. Make sure that your management and IT staff have copies and understand what is to happen. Also, talk to your employees about your DRP so that they know what to do in case of a natural disaster.
- Have a backup strategy. In addition to your DRP, identify what each of your key business processes are, and determine a backup for each. For example, in order to maintain all your data, you may want to keep a copy of everything off-site.
- List other disasters. While hurricanes are a current threat, there are still other types of disasters to worry about such as fires and floods. Prepare a list of all the possible disasters for your area and describe the possible consequences of each one.
- Practice your DRP. Giving your DRP a run-through will help everyone understand exactly what their role is in the plan.
- Store your data and server images with EverSafe! in the cloud. By having additional copies of your servers in two bi-coastal data centers, short of thermonuclear war, your servers are safe and ready to spin up in under 30 minutes from anywhere.
- Use EverConnect! to ensure you have Internet Failover options. During and for weeks after Sandy, there were massive internet outages, but Verizon’s 4g network, primarily powered by independent generators at each tower withstood the brunt and remained up and running. EverConnect! leverages the power of their 20mb+ 4g LTE network to allow your entire office to operate as if your landline based Internet was still up.
Being in the start of the hurricane season, businesses need to be aware of the potential damage these natural disasters can cause. As a small business, you should know what to expect and just how to prepare. Make your recovery plan, store it well, backup everything and have your employees practice your plan to ensure that everyone is prepared this hurricane season.