June marks the beginning of hurricane season in the Atlantic, which means that many Americans are facing dangerous storm conditions, evacuations, and potentially devastating property damage. Aside from the usual worries regarding family safety and access to emergency resources that most people experience, small business owners face additional concerns, making it imperative that they have a disaster recovery plan in place.
A recent survey of small business owners revealed that over half of respondents felt it would take three or more months for their businesses to recover following a natural disaster. Many small businesses never reopen their doors after a disaster strikes their region. While there’s no way to avoid the threat to your business, there are a few steps to take to prepare your company for a faster restoration period with a disaster recovery plan.
Most offices are largely digital today but consider the important physical files your company would risk losing if your office faced serious storm damage tomorrow. If you haven’t done so already, encourage your clients to adopt paperless billing. Another step to help digitize your company processes is ensuring your office utilities, vendor contracts and other bills are set to digital options moving forward. Create a digital filing system and digitize any remaining paper files such as important client documents, bills, vendor and client invoices, tax-related forms and receipts, etc. This will eliminate the chances of losing essential files and, as an added benefit, will actually reduce clutter and misfiled documents in the office.
Tools like the Fujitsu ScanSnap iX series offer a variety of options for offices large and small with easy-to-use functions and built-in features like OCR (optical character recognition) which allows you to add keywords and create searchable files. A recent survey conducted by Fujitsu found that over 60% of respondents shared they’d often lost important documents they wish they had digitized beforehand.
Back up to the cloud
The most important step in digitizing your business records is backing them up. If you’ve uploaded everything to your office computers and physical backup drives, they’ll be just as vulnerable to the elements in a natural disaster. Instead, use a trusted cloud-based software that allows you to securely and safely store important files, ensuring you never lose them to a stolen, crashed, damaged, or hacked system. Many scanners including the ScanSnap series feature direct-to-cloud compatibility with versatile platforms like Google Drive, Neat, Box and others.
Cloud-based organization also means you can sort and identify files with simple keywords to find the right document instantly, integrate files from various computers and use smartphone apps to scan receipts and documents when on the go. In the event of a disaster, your team will be able to access and recover every important file, record and invoice that would have otherwise been compromised.
Identify a continuity strategy
One of the most vital parts of a successful disaster recovery plan is a strategy that supports your team is continuing business operations as soon as possible following the unforeseen event. Experts suggest identifying the most critical functions impacting your business and which processes and resources are essential to carry these out. This allows you to prioritize the core business needs and determine which team members should handle supporting them.
Create a continuity team and build a disaster recovery plan together. While it may take months to rebuild your office and return to business as usual within your community, this allows your business to carry out essential functions remotely, maintain processes, and retain customers.
Have you discussed a disaster recovery plan with your team? What other actions are you taking to protect your small business?
The SmallBizRising Blog is designed to be an educational content hub pulling information, best practices and practical advice for the small business owner and features topics including accounting, marketing, technology and more. Be sure to subscribe to stay up to date with new content as it is posted. The blog was created by The Neat Company and receives contributed content from a group of contributing companies that provide technology, services and solutions to small businesses.