7 steps to disaster proofing your business

After years of drought in Australia, it still feels a little strange to be preparing for flood. But La Nina, the same climate phenomenon that was responsible for the Brisbane floods and Cyclone Yasi is back for another Summer, and the Bureau of Meterology warns Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria in particular, to brace for another wet and stormy summer.

Flooding aside, are you prepared for an unplanned event in your business? What would you do if a disaster struck? Do you have access to important documents and adequate insurance? While Australia’s large organisations have grand disaster recovery plans to make sure that business continues as normal, it’s the two million-plus SMEs that are most at risk in the event of an emergency.

So how do you protect your business? Here are seven easy steps that all business owners should tick off their list before heading off to enjoy their (well earned!) summer break.

Get your insurance in order

With plenty of competition, there’s some very affordable options, tailor made to fit any business. Check you are covered for building and contents, public liability and income protection – and don’t forget to check the amount!  Most businesses increase their assets during the year, but forget to increase their insurance level.

Make some lists (and check them twice!)

Keep a list of key suppliers, customers and staff contact details in a place that is safe and accessible. Try an online solution such as Google Docs or Dropbox, so you can access them anytime, from anywhere.

Copy all important documents

Make sure the originals are stored in a fire/flood proof box, and scan and save copies to a portable hard drive or your Dropbox account.

Have a back-up plan

Do you need a physical office to keep your business running? If you’re not able to continue things from home or remotely, you should check out temporary offices in advance. If you can, stop by and visit a few, make a decision, get some quotes and save valuable time in the event of an emergency.

Back up your financial records

Check your bank accounts and company accounts are up to date, and don’t forget to take a backup from your accounting software.  (And if you’re using MYOB, here’s some step by step instructions)

Check in with everyone

It’s hard to stay in touch with people if you don’t have the correct contact details. Take some time to clean up your contact list, and make sure you’ve got valid contacts for them all.  It doesn’t hurt to include your contact details with your annual Christmas card to ensure that everyone has a copy of your latest details.

And finally, have a disaster action plan!

There’s nothing like an unplanned event to throw everything into disarray! Take the time to document the process you will take, who is responsible for what actions (such as informing clients) and make sure your employees are aware of their role. In the event of an emergency, this should be your first port of call.

Luckily, this part is really easy, thanks to MyBizShield, a free iPad app developed by the Federal Government that helps you create an emergency management and recovery plan that’s right for your business.  And because it’s right there on your iPad you have access to your plan on the go.

Don’t have an iPad? You can download the Word template and guide from the site as well.

And once you’ve filled it out? It’s time to crack open a very well earned drink, and enjoy the holiday season safe in the knowledge that you are prepared, insured and ready to get back to business as usual in 2012.

  • Hi Jason

    Great post and points – one thing I would also add is to make sure legal documentation is up to date such as wills, power of attorney etc and your desires for your business should anything happen to you

    • Hi Leanne:

      Thanks for your comment – not sure how I managed to miss this very important part of every business – the all important legal documents! Having a will is certainly something that is easily forgotten about – and given how easy it is to get one, do it yourself will kits are only $25 ….. why wouldn’t you have one?!

      Would be curious to know how many readers of The Pulse don’t have a will sorted??

      Cheers & Merry Christmas

      • The myBizSheild app is actually very well put together.

        Some great action points there Jason!