#Blog4Biz Day 21: What A Trip to Oklahoma Taught Me About Disaster Proofing Your Business

The Living BRAVE blog re-launches on Aug 1, 2013. To celebrate, I am giving away a $50 gift card to Target. I call it the "BRAVE-ly Back at it" Giveaway. It starts August 1 and runs through August 8, 2013. Click here for the official rules.

Protecting my business from disaster is not something I have ever really thought about. My business is so small that there isn’t really much damage that can be done, right? Wrong! 

The creator of the #Blog4Biz Challenge, Shai Cooper of Fleur Management is a virtual assistant. She has a passion for many things… productive organization, business building, social media branding and marketing, and emergency management. 

In today’s challenge, the emergency management side of her asks us to think about protecting our business from disaster. As I write this I am in transit back from a trip to Oklahoma visiting my in laws. Disaster is something I think about often when it comes to my loved ones there. Every time there is a tornado, I am waiting with betted breathe to hear if everyone is okay.

Oklahomans know about disaster. During our trip, I was struck by the vast number of disaster prevention, disaster relief, and disaster preparation billboards and other advertisements I saw. Insurance agents, local advocacy groups, and lawyers toting the message of “be ready” or “if need help call us”.

My husband took us on a driving tour down memory lane.  We drove past every school he attended. Elementary, intermediate, junior high, and high school stops were shrouded in memories of yesteryear and a little envy.  The buildings had been upgraded and he was only a little jealous that he didn’t have access to some of the newer amenities. 

Being the wonderful wife that I am I tried to be as enthusiastic as he. I tried to engage as much as possible and find interesting things to ask.  One of those things was about the tornado drills. Once a year, his school would have a tornado drill. The tornado bell would ring, the students would go to the hallway, sit pretzel leg style facing the lockers, thread their fingers behind their head and tuck their heads in their laps. That was the drill. Disaster has a name in Oklahoma and residents there anticipate and prepare for it.

What do business disasters look like?

Natural disasters like a flood, tornado, hurricane, earthquake count. But there are other disasters too. Burglary, vandalism, fire, water damage could all wreak havoc, if not permanently close, a small business who is not prepared. 

Then there are customer related disasters like malpractice, liability, breach of contracts, law suits, slander etc. 

Consider also that we live in the digital age. Electronics are a staple of how we live and do business. Firewalls, spyware, malware, hacking, and viruses are all possibilities.

Shai shared a digital disaster that happened to her recently on her post Rebuilding My Digital Life.  Note to self, back up your computer immediately

On Day 19, I confessed that working ON my business is a task I don’t particularly like. Disaster prevention planning or emergency management plans are at the top of the list in the category of things that I mentioned I hated doing.

Let’s be real! Thinking about EVERY possible thing that could go wrong in your business and then trying to install a plan, policy, or preventive measure is a major downer. It is a buzz kill of epic proportions. It is enough to make a small business owner throw in the towel. Once you become aware, you can’t undo awareness. Once awareness hits you have two choices. You either take action or you don’t. 

If you are like me taking action can seem daunting, so here a few ways I am going to take action to disaster proof my business.

1. Baby steps. You’ve heard that the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. Well that is what I am going to do. My head swirls with anguish when I think about all the things I might need to do. First I will back up my computer. Cloud based storage systems ensures that if my computer, flash drive, or external hard drive are ever physically destroyed, the files are somewhere. 

2. Consider your business type and location. Disaster management for a construction company, a bakery, and a fitness gym are all different. You can save some headache by finding out what applies to you.  I will be checking with my small business counselor and other small businesses similar to mine in my area to determine what else I could be doing. 

3. Set regular reminders.  Once in place, these policies generally only need updating. The hard part is initiating or creating them. Once done, maintenance is easier. Therefore I will be checking in regularly as my business grows to make sure I am still compliant.  

Like I said, these things are not the fun part of being a business owner. But they are the responsible things. Taking a lesson from the Oklahomans, preparation could mean the difference between life or death. I want my business to live. 

What prevention methods do you have in place that I should know about? 

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The Living BRAVE blog re-launches on Aug 1, 2013. During July, however, I accepted the #Blog4Biz daily business blogging challenge. This post is a part of that challenge. If you want to join the challenge, click here.

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