5 Steps to Get Business Defenses Ready for Storm Season
October 18, 2018
By: Jason Eisenberg Community Program Manager for Office Depot
Is it me, or is there a ‘storm of the century’ almost every other year now? Whether it’s ‘branding’ or Earth’s weather patterns are veering more to the extreme, it’s no longer viable to just weather the storm and wait it out. Hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, flooding, fires – they are all forces not to be reckoned with, but they are certainly to be respected. According to The Weather Channel, among the top five costliest hurricanes in the United States, four were within the last six years and three were just from 2017 (Harvey, Maria and Irma).
After a catastrophe such as a hurricane or winter storm passes, society must focus on rebuilding infrastructure, the economy, and for some unfortunate cases – lives. The aftermath affects all walks of life in a region. With business operations relying more on computer networks and the Internet, extreme weather can really drown your business if a continuity plan following a disaster isn’t in place. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and cited by CSNBC:
… nearly 40% of small businesses never reopen their doors after a disaster.
And it’s not just from physical damage to storefront properties. Think about the downtime your company would be burdened with if your office flooded. Would you have to move offices? Can your employees safely travel to their place of work? Do you have the current files and records to keep operations running smoothly?
We’re old enough to realize that just because something hasn’t happened to you, doesn’t mean it won’t happen in the future. Don’t get caught off guard and find your business hemorrhaging money because you’re unexpectedly offline. Take the steps to protect your business like you would your family.
Have a business continuity plan
Having a business continuity plan can get everyone on the same page – especially in times of chaos. FEMA offers a free booklet on developing a plan to stay in business after a disaster, covering everything from emergency supplies and escape routes, to utility disruptions and cyber security precautions.
You can use cloud services to avoid the storm but make sure the data centers responsible for your data aren’t located in commonly affected areas. This can allow employees to potentially work from home if you have a remote workflow in place.
IT as a Service
Your best bet to weather a storm is to have a professional Information Technology team on your side so you can focus on other issues from the aftermath. Having IT as a service means you have a fully managed IT provider that monitors your network devices around the clock coupled with live support, monitoring and on-site services.
Since these managed technology solutions are tailored to you, your business essentially has an IT department that’s always prepared for events that may cause data loss. And most IT support companies can even back up your data in their secure, off-site location so you can add another layer of data protection.
External hard drives and your own cloud storage
Maybe you don’t want all your sensitive data in the cloud or with a backup service. Maybe it’s just for you, but you don’t want to lose it in case of an emergency. External hard drives and key drives are a good way to keep things backed up, and close to you. You can also do the same with cloud storage devices. Just try to take care in keeping the device out of harm’s way or you’ll have bought the device and backed it up for no reason at all.
Off-site document storage (and shredding)
You can find business solutions like storage and shredding at places like Office Depot, knowing it’s confidential, cost-effective and better for the environment. I’m a fan of technology but when tech fails, printed records stored in a safe place can save the day.
Inventory of your data
Try to know where your data is and who is managing it. You don’t want to have bits of data compartmentalized throughout the office. Often as a business grows, new databases and systems get added out of necessity and then things get lost or forgotten. Try to have someone in charge of your systems or hire a service to manage where and what data needs to be protected.
One of the ways to prevent a disaster from becoming a catastrophe is to prepare for one. Consider making your business resilient and in an effort to not become part of the ‘businesses-who-weren’t-prepared ‘statistic.
About the Author Jason Eisenberg is the Community Program Manager for Office Depot, specializing in small business and entrepreneurship. Based out of one of the most exciting cities for startups – Austin, TX – Jason is plugged into the business community, often connecting with thought leaders, entrepreneurs and strategists to help identify and find solutions to common pain points all business owners share.
To join our high-level discussions, check out our free online community where you’ll have access to live Q&As, featured #Workonomy, and the knowledge our members possess.
All content provided herein is for educational purposes only. It is provided “as is” and neither the author nor Office Depot, Inc. warrant the accuracy of the information provided, nor do they assume any responsibility for errors, omissions or contrary interpretation of the subject matter herein.