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According to FEMA, 40 percent of businesses are unable to reopen after a disaster, and a further 25 percent of businesses close within one year of a disaster. Even more shocking, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration, over 50 percent of businesses close within two years of suffering from a disaster. These statistics highlight how important it is for businesses to establish a disaster recovery guide.

Businesses have enough challenges in today’s difficult economic climate, recovering from a disaster should not be one of them. The following tips will help you develop a business recovery guide that will safeguard your business in the event of a disaster.

Consider an Off-Site Data Back-Up Location

One of the most important things to consider in the event of a disaster is the safekeeping of your business’s valuable data by using a system like SQL Server Recovery. Imagine if you lost all of your customer account numbers, telephone numbers, and other valuable information overnight. A secure off-site data storage facility should be used by almost any business in today’s day and age. Without the data that keeps your business running, you would have to start your business over from scratch.

Develop a List of Jobs

A crucial step in developing a business recovery guide is making a list of jobs that would need to relocate in order to maintain smooth operating function in the event of a disaster. Each job that would be critical if your business was in disaster recovery mode should be highlighted. For example, accounting and customer service personnel would be designated as critical to your business, while telesales or marketing positions would be less critical.

Make an Inventory of Necessary Office Equipment

List all of the office equipment that is critical to the operation of your business. In the event of a disaster, money and time will be especially important. Therefore, you should make a list of all of the equipment that is only truly essential and not all of the items that are currently used. Items like computers, telephones, cash registers, and software may be on this list.

Make a Catalogue of Supporting Equipment

More than likely, there is equipment working behind the scenes that support your business. Equipment like servers and phone systems may all play a role in taking orders, shipping materials, mailing invoices, managing payroll, and so on. These items tie your business together and should be catalogued as well.

Designate a Back-Up Office Location

After compiling a list of key personnel and necessary equipment, you will need a a safe and secure back-up office location for them to work. You do not need to rent office space in advance and let it sit empty, but you should research alternative spaces that you will be able to relocate to in the event of a flood, fire, or any other disaster. A local real estate agent will be able to provide you with a list of vacant office spaces. You may also be able to arrange an agreement with another business to share a location in the event of a disaster. Depending on your business, telecommuting may also be a viable option worth considering.

Create a Budget and Estimate Costs

After finding a back-up location, you should create a cost estimate of each of the items from the necessary equipment list. This may take a little time, but you will have the total cost estimation in advance and ready to provide to your insurance agent. The sooner you get a check from the insurance company, the sooner you will be able to be and running after a disaster. In some markets you may consider a pre-loss disaster cleanup program from a certified contractor, these agreements can help shorten the time your business is offline. In some situations your insurance company may assist with connecting you with a disaster recovery contractor, but in most situations as a business owner you might get stuck trying to interview and screen these companies, right after a disaster which can further complicate your recovery efforts.

The recent influx of disasters occurring around the world has emphasized the importance of having a business recovery guide in place in order to keep your business up and running if disaster strikes. Sadly, many businesses do not realize the importance of this until after the fact. By considering each of these tips and implementing a business recovery guide, your business will be able to run smoothly under the most difficult of circumstances.

The SBA offers a great guide to help business owners prepare for and recover from a potential disaster. Most companies that are prepared have a much higher likelihood of recovering from unexpected catastrophes and starting with a plan is a great way to help minimize downtime.

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