We live in an unpredictable world, and it’s impossible to tell when or where the next natural or manmade disaster will strike. But as a business owner, one of the things you can do is make sure you’re prepared. Here are some ideas to consider for handling an emergency that make good common sense.
- Store a copy of all computer operating systems and important files offsite.
- Back up critical data on a regular basis and rotate storage disks (floppies, CDs, tapes) to an offsite location.
- With many programs having a “remember this password” feature, it can be easy to lose track of passwords (and IDs) used for different systems. Writing down passwords is not advisable for security purposes, so be sure there is more than one trusted employee who can reset passwords for key systems.
- For important financial records like balance sheets, income statements and tax returns, keep a copy in a secure location.
- Keep copies of critical contracts, licenses and operating agreements offsite. Don’t forget to update these offsite materials regularly.
- Keep an updated inventory of all equipment and other fixed assets. This should include identification numbers, costs and locations.
- Make sure all physical assets are adequately insured.
Keep a file of contacts, phone numbers and email addresses offsite. In an emergency, being able to contact employees, vendors and customers is critical. Be sure to include office and mobile numbers, as well as email addresses.
It is important to have a plan outlining how to contact critical parties. Specific people should be assigned to handle specific contacts—employees, vendors, customers and others. You may also want to have a designated media contact. In the confusion of a disaster, it is critical that accurate and consistent information is made available.
Common sense, a well thought-out plan and remaining calm are some of the key ingredients for successfully dealing with an emergency. Make sure you and your business are prepared for whatever the future holds.