It's not the first time the Bay Area has been rocked by an earthquake, yet events like Sunday's magnitude-6.0 earthquake never fail to serve as a wake up call to small businesses in California and beyond.
But it may surprise you to know that earthquakes--though, often severe--aren't the biggest ecological events owners need to be concerned by.
Weather-related storms like hurricanes, tornadoes and Nor'easters can wreak far more havoc. According to the Insurance Service Office, these following were the top causes of insured disaster-related losses from 1993 to 2012, the latest information available.
1. Hurricanes/Tropical Storms - $158 Billion
2. Tornadoes - $141 Billion
3. Winter Storms - $28 Billion
4. Terrorism - $25 Billion
5. Geological Events - $18 Billion
You can't change the weather, but you can change how you prepare and respond to it. Agility Recovery, a company that offers disaster preparation and recovery advice for businesses, partnered with the Small Business Administration to recommend various business continuity strategies.
Here are five tips from their recent webinar:
1. Check your emergency backup systems
Power outage is the most common way that natural disasters affect businesses. Our increasing reliance on technology means that almost no work can be done without electricity. Does your building have an uninterruptable power supply (UPS)? A UPS can give your company instantaneous backup power during an electric utility outage. It's important to keep your main computer up and running, at least for as long as it takes to back up critical information. To cope with outages of long duration, a back-up generator may be a good investment.
2. Get those cellphones charged
The lights are out and the computers are dead. What can people rely on during these moments? Cellphones! Communication is essential, not only for your business but for everyone's safety (and peace of mind).Solar chargers, backup batteries, and hand-crank chargers provide several options for juicing up your devices when teh power is out.
3. Back up your data
Time is money, but so is data. So much so that you should be backing it up regularly, disasters notwithstanding. There are plenty of ways to do this in our cloud-bnased world, but for peace of mind you might want to be sure you have a physical copy close to hand. So don't skimp on the jump drives. And make sure your IT service providers brief you on their phsyical risks and contingency plans.
4. Prioritize key business functions
Identify your must-have business operations ahead of time and know who should be running them. For example, make sure specific IT staff know they're responsible for protecting and recovering your computer systems. Don't forget your employees: HR functions such as payroll and benefits administration should be able to function come what may.
5. Talk to your insurance company
You may already insure your physical equipment, but what about the potentially biggest loss: loss of revenue. A recent National Federation of Independent Businesses study found that the lack of adequate insurance coverage was associated with harm to continuing operations more than physical property destruction. Talk to your insurance company about available coverage--and make sure you have all vital insurance information, including contacts, ready to access at a moment's notice.