Jim Gilbert's Return on Intelligence: When Disaster Strikes - My 6th Annual Preparedness Guide to Surviving a Disaster
As we enter the last week of May, there's actually a tropical disturbance brewing in the Atlantic. We've already suffered through earthquakes in major regions and a catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Thus I felt it was time for my yearly guide to disaster preparation, right in time for hurricane and tornado season.
Much like a four-letter word, disasters happen in all forms just about anywhere, without warning, at any time. So prepare your company and yourself. Here’s a disaster-readiness checklist I suggest you look over carefully. If you think you’re on top of it, compare your list to this one to ensure you have all the bases covered.
- Have a business survival disaster plan in place. Get your department heads involved as stakeholders. Let your employees know what to do in the event of any emergency.
- Publish a list of all emergency contact numbers for your key personnel and vendors. Include home and cell phone numbers, as well as home email addresses as alternative ways of contact if main communication channels go down. And don’t forget instant messaging and Skype addresses, as well as text messages.
- Twitter and Facebook can be effective tools for communicating with your employees, vendors and customers during times of crisis.
- Designate someone in your company as chief disaster planning officer.
- Back up your computers and computer systems regularly. Then back up your backups. Most importantly, keep them off-site. I have five backup drives and all my files backed up on DVDs. There are two kinds of computer users: those who have lost data, and those who will lose it. I fall into the first category: Last year one of my backup drives failed with more than 750 gigabytes of data on it. Luckily, while I lost three-quarters of a terabyte of data, I had almost all of it backed up on DVDs. I’m one of the fortunate ones who lost a little, not a lot.
- Work with your call center so it can operate if a disaster strikes. If you use an external call center, inquire about its disaster plan.
- If your call center is on-site, consider hiring a backup call-center staff to field calls in case of emergency (this saved one my clients' bacon a few years ago).
- If you host your own website, have a plan in place in case you lose all power. Find out what your ISP does if it loses all electricity.
- If your business is in a disaster-prone area, buy a generator.
- If your business isn’t in a disaster-prone area, contact any vendors that are. Disasters, either natural or man-made, can interrupt your workflow with printers, the Postal Service or any other vendors.
- Don’t market into disaster-impacted areas because they won’t respond. If you’ve already marketed in a disaster-impacted area, adjust your projections downward.
Bottom line for all this, remember my motto (or is it the Boy Scout motto?): ALWAYS BE PREPARED!