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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Prepare For the Worst, Plan For the Best

I recently heard Donna Childs of Childs Capital, LLC speak about her experiences surviving the attacks on 9/11. She was in the tower when the plane hit, evacuated to her apartment just up the street when it collapsed, and evacuated again to be hurried off the side of the pier and into a boat that took people to New Jersey where she spent the next month living and while trying to keep her small business surviving. She has since started a non profit to help small business recover from disaster.

Why is this important? That's what I thought at first. Let me give you some statistics about business disaster.

  • Less than 5% of small business claims were settled for what the owners identified as full value.
  • The Red Cross says that 40% of small business don't reopen / survive after a major disaster.
  • The Red Cross says that 30% of small business have had a major disaster in the last year.
  • (A major disaster is defined as having an interruption of business for more than 24 hours)
  • Having a disaster plan reduces your insurance premium by up to 30%.
  • The most common disasters are not terrorist attacks or even fires, they are data loss and power outage.
After hearing her speak, I became aware of just how unprepared almost every small business I come into contact with is. I wouldn't even count myself as disaster ready.

If you want to learn how to improve your chances of survival after disaster, check out her book here.
To develop your own Disaster Recovery Plan, consider this:
  1. Set up an emergency response plan and train employees how to carry it out
  2. Write out each step of the plan and assign responsibilities to employees in clear and simple language
  3. Compile a list of important phone numbers and addresses
  4. Decide on a communications strategy to prevent loss of customers
  5. Consider the things you may need initially during the emergency
  6. Human Resources
  7. Physical Resources
  8. Business Community
  9. Protect Your Building
  10. Keep Duplicate Records
  11. Identify critical business activities and the resources needed to support them
  12. Find alternative facilities, equipment and supplies, and locate qualified contractors
  13. Protect computer systems and data