Over the past several months, we in the United States have been hit with a variety of weather related challenges from coast to coast. Intense heat causing out of control fires to the west of us … hurricanes and tornadoes to the right … and flooding pretty much everywhere. Consequently, this has been a rough year for many of my team members, VA friends and colleagues. Fortunately, I can happily report that out of everyone I know personally who’s been affected, they have all managed to make it through without any physical harm or anything other than a minor interruption to their businesses.
So, in light of everything that has been going on, I thought the following tips on disaster preparedness by my good friend and team member, Diana Ennen, would be quite appropriate and timely.
Prepare Your Home Based Business Now – Disaster Preparedness 101
by Diana Ennen
Here are a few tips that I find very beneficial:
- Back-up your system regularly. Set it for automatic, and hopefully during the night so that your computer isn’t slowed down while it backs up. Make this as much a part of running your business as answering e-mails to clients.
- Test that back-up. Just as important as backing up your system is knowing how to retrieve that information. It does differ on the type of back-up you perform. Test this out, before you need it. Also, write out complete instructions on how to restore backed up data and include this in your Disaster Plan. When you are stressed during a crisis, you need things as step-by-step and easy as possible. If you’ve already written complete instructions, you’ll be amazed how easy this can be.
- Save a back-up copy offsite. It’s as easy as having a family member take your back-up CDs to work, or having a flash drive. I just feel better knowing that my hard work is going to be there when I get back, even if the unthinkable happened while I was away. I also use Carbonite so that I have a virtual back-up.
- Do regular virus scans. Many feel that because they have a virus program that will alert them if a virus comes in via e-mail, they are safe. That could well be. However, I feel so much better after doing a virus scan and it telling me I’m AOK. Also, set this for automatic as well.
- For important e-mails, copy and paste them into your word processing program. It takes a little extra effort, but can be easily done. Also, download files as soon as they arrive.
- It’s also important to have a disaster recovery plan. It’s easier than you think and should be done the same as your marketing and business plans.
- Here are some tips for that:
1.) Business Continuity Plan – Plan ahead for all aspects of your business. It’s important to write down all your client contact information, where back-ups are stored, who your subcontractors are, the work normally done, etc. When you think about it, if something were to happen tomorrow, how good would you feel if you knew your clients, subcontractors, and business operations would be taken care of. It just provides the peace of mind you need.
2) While you’re writing, include a breakdown of family members, phone contacts, close relatives with complete contact information. We recommend additionally putting this on a 3 x 5 card for your younger children. And honestly, this isn’t just for us Floridians who experience hurricanes. The unexpected weather over the past months should tell you of the importance of this.
3) Keep an inventory of all your business furnishings, business equipment, software programs, passwords, etc. Also, keep receipts and photos. You’ll be amazed how once you do this and have it set up, it’s automatic when you get something new. You simply add it to your recovery plan. I make copies of all receipts and simply add it to an envelope in my plan.
4) Insurance information. Write down all your policies and coverage. In addition to having this information if you did need to file a claim, it also helps to see if you have enough coverage.
5) Medical information. The well being of yourself and family is of utmost importance. You need to write down all of you and your family’s medicines, doctors, medical conditions, etc. This section can literally save your life. Don’t forget to include drug dosages. Now you’re wondering why this is part of a business disaster recovery plan. But when you think about it, aren’t you the most important part of your business. That’s why this is so critical.
I hope you have found these tips helpful. Prepare now and have peace and security for years to come.
Diana Ennen is President of Virtual Word Publishing, http://www.virtualwordpublishing.com, specializing in publicity and marketing. Ennen is also the co-author of The Home Office Recovery Plan: Disaster Preparedness for Your Home-Based Business. Article is free to be reprinted as long as author’s bio remains.
If you’d like a sample copy of the Home Office Recovery Plan … email Diana at [email protected]