Every business faces the risk that a natural or man-made disaster could disrupt normal operations and ultimately threaten the viability of the enterprise. Fires, floods, earthquakes, thefts and terrorism are all potential threats to a business.

Having a disaster recovery plan to deal with such threats is critical. You may want to organize the preparation of a plan around four objectives:

  1. Employee safety. Some disasters create the need for medical assistance. As a result, some planning considerations include:
    • First aid kits – Have one or more easily accessible kits on hand.
    • Trained staff – Have one or more employees trained in basic first aid procedures such as CPR.
    • Getting assistance – Phone numbers and locations of doctors, hospitals and ambulance services should be readily available.
    • Evacuation plan – Everyone should know how to leave your business in the chaos of a disaster. You may also want to establish a meeting location to ensure everyone evacuated safely.
  1. Preservation of business property, equipment and data. Physical property and equipment can be protected or moved if time and safety permit. If floods are a risk in your location, you may want to consider how you could elevate the equipment to avoid floodwaters or have sandbagging capabilities.

Keep a regularly updated inventory of your firm’s equipment and other fixed assets, and make sure all your physical assets are adequately insured.

Protecting your data deserves special attention. Store a copy of all computer operating system and important files off site, and regularly back up critical data.

Also keep copies of important financial records like balance sheets, income statements and tax returns in a secure off-site location.

  1. Keeping the business running until normal operations resume.
    • Have a backup location. If you have a small staff, your accountant, lawyer or banker may have a conference room they would make available. If your business is larger or if you have special needs, stay aware of available space in your area that you could lease on a short-term basis.
    • Keep a supply of office supplies off site in case you can’t reach your business location.
    • Business interruption insurance – Ask your insurance agent about this type of policy, which could cover some of the added expenses of operating during a period of disruption.
  1. Maintaining communications. You must know how to reach all your employees to check on their safety and to let them know your plans. The information you may need includes employee phone numbers, mailing addresses, email addresses and information for contacting their family members. Similar information should also be available for customers and vendors.

In times of emergency, some companies are able to handle adversity well and others are not. Be sure your company is prepared.

This news is provided as a service to you by Marlin Business Services Corp., a nationwide leader in commercial lending solutions for the U.S. small business sector. Marlin’s equipment financing and loan programs are available directly and through third-party vendor programs, including manufacturers, distributors, independent dealers and brokers, to deliver financing and working capital that help build your success.