Can Your Business Cope with an Unexpected Closure?

business closure
Flooded Sonic Restaurant in Coralville, IA (photography: Don Becker, USGS)

They say that if you fail to plan, then you should plan to fail. Those are wise words, but what would you do if your carefully thought out plans weren’t enough? Having a good business continuity plan is important, but even the most well thought out business continuity plan can’t cover everything. Do you know what you would do if things went seriously wrong?

Mass Power Outages, Floods, and Other Disasters

In December 2011, Scotland saw some of the most severe storms in recent history. Around 150,000 homes lost power for a short time, and almost half of those homes were without power overnight. Travel conditions remained difficult for several days, and property damage was severe. Some properties were even left without water for several days.

Scotland is no stranger to snow, ice, and wind, but the average business continuity plan thinks only about the worst that is likely to happen. It’s a safe bet that Scottish companies have clear policies for remote working, communications, absenteeism, and making sure that the pipes in their offices don’t burst during the festive holidays. Most companies, however, probably didn’t plan for a huge storm that would cause massive damage to property, and cause city-wide blackouts. Why would they waste time and resources worrying about something that is so unlikely to happen?

Protecting Your Business

Making a business continuity plan should be the first step you take towards protecting your business, not the only step. In addition to planning for common, likely interruptions, you should also protect your business against the unforeseen.

Business interruption insurance may sound like a luxury, but it’s something that you can’t afford to ignore these days. Natural disasters are happening all over the world, from Tsunamis, to Icelandic ash clouds, earthquakes, and floods. The effects of these disasters are far-reaching, too. Do you remember how the Icelandic ash cloud grounded flights all over Europe? In a world where international trade is almost routine, being cut off from the rest of the world can be a big problem.

When you’re choosing an insurance plan, make sure you understand what kind of events the insurance covers, and what you can and cannot claim for. Also, make sure you understand what documentation you will need to provide. You don’t want to end up in a position where you think you’re covered, but you can’t claim because the documentation you need has been damaged in the flood/fire/earthquake.

In addition to insurance, you should also give serious consideration to off-site backups. Ideally, those backups should be stored in another country, or at the very least a different city. You might think that you’re organized because you’ve kept some backups in a locked safe in your office, but what if the office burns down? Even the old backups you’re keeping at home might not save you if there’s a flood. There are lots of cloud based backup services out there these days. Investigate them, and make one part of your business continuity plan.

This article was written by Crispin Jones on behalf of Maintel.

Image: U.S. Geological Survey / Flickr

SMB Authors

This article is one of the excellent contributions from small business owners, decision makers and professionals.