Your business is at risk. This isn't something to worry about, but rather plan for. Your business is always at risk, but the difference is successful companies have contingency plans in place to save them from catastrophic failure.

Failure comes in many different forms. This article will illustrate just how you can go about protecting your business from a major disaster.

Data Loss

We all have heard the horror stories of companies that had their data compromised. In 2013, Target experienced a catastrophic failure when their data breach exposed 70 million customers to potential identity theft. A massive 77% of businesses reported a data breach in the last year. This ranges from massive data loss to minor breaches. Any of these data breaches could signal a huge collapse for your business due to potential lawsuits, along with a total decline in consumer confidence.

However, data loss is something you can defend against. This can be done by securing your systems with the latest anti-virus and malware detection software. Keep it updated at all times. Make sure any computers with access to customer data are used for work purposes only and store all customer data on an encrypted database. Use multi-levels of passwords to access that database and change them regularly. And should the worst happen, include a plan for data breach in your company's Disaster Plan.

Server Failure

You are now covered against a data breach and the ensuing catastrophe associated with being attacked by hackers and losing data. But what about a server failure? This may be something out of your control. Most businesses rely on an external data center, rather than a private server housed in a building they own.

Server failure is something you can defend against by choosing the right hosting provider. Make sure you are working with an organization with multiple data centers and sufficient redundancy. This means if one happens to fail, another will take over to prevent any downtime.

Office System Failure

Sometimes the threat doesn't come from cyber attackers. Instead, it comes from natural disasters, office-system break downs or general wear and tear. Smart companies have multiple contingency plans in place to make sure the damage is limited.

Critical to avoiding catastrophe is having a business insurance policy in place. This will cover you from damages in the event of a natural disaster, vandalism or theft. However, an insurance policy will not cover everything. Having an office warranty as a companion to your insurance policy can offer peace of mind that you are covered when systems break down due to normal wear and tear, such as HVAC, plumbing, electrical and appliances. An office warranty can also provide preventive maintenance on your office systems to avoid break downs and interruptions in the first place.

President and CEO, Edward Maznio of OfficeGuardian explains, "It's important to the welfare of businesses, especially small businesses to have contingency plans in place. These plans should cover all repairs--both from loss or damage, and wear and tear. This can save you from unnecessary stress, plus thousands of dollars of unpredicted expenses and business interruptions."

What to Do if the Customer Experience is Impacted

Sometimes there is nothing you can do to protect against an unforeseen challenge and you have no choice but to accept the fact that customers have had their experience negatively affected. This is where you have to act in the best way to preserve your reputation.

Here are some smart steps to take after an unavoidable business catastrophe occurs:

  • Admit what has happened and provide as much detail as possible.
  • Offer some concessions to customers, when possible. This may be in the form of discounts or credits toward future purchases.
  • Tell customers what you are going to do to stop this from happening in the future.

At the very least, your customers and business partners will expect you to take these three steps. There are no guarantees this will remedy the situation. Some customers may have already decided to go elsewhere, but those who remain will be thankful you have done your best by them.

Be Prepared

Sometimes, disasters will happen in business and in life. But the key is how you react. Putting systems in place to avoid a catastrophe in the first place is your smartest move. Make sure you have some solid contingency plans in place for what to do if things go wrong. When the unforeseen occurs, you will be thankful that you took these steps in advance.

The key to making it through and keeping your brand intact is to make sure customers, employees and partners are impacted as little as possible when a problem does occur. A company that can continue to operate as if nothing has happened will have a big advantage over its competitors who are unprepared for the very real challenges of running a business. Planning for potential catastrophes could mean the difference between long-term success and failure.

What steps will you take to make sure your business stays alive when the worst happens?

Published on: Feb 19, 2016