Wednesday, October 24, 2007

7 Steps to Business Emergency Preparedness

The fires in California have made me think, once again, about having your business prepared for emergency situations. I made a list of 7 things that every virtual assistant business, or any business that is computer related, needs to have ready:

1) Back up, back up, back up! Make sure every important document and file on your computer is backed up. This can be done with jump drives, CDs, or really anything that will safely hold your information. It would be good if you could keep this and any installation and restore discs at a location other than your house/office.

2) Have another location option. Have a place set up ahead of time where you can go to use a computer, phone, etc. when you have to leave your home for any emergency. This could be as simple as having a laptop that you can take anywhere.

3) Insurance. Make sure, if you work from home, that your home-owner's insurance covers your home office. If it doesn't, increase your coverage.

4) Recovery. Have a plan in place to quickly recover from an emergency situation. If you lose your whole livelihood in a fire or flood, how will you recover? What will you do for equipment until your insurance cheque comes?

5) Communication. What happens when your clients can't reach you? What about an emergency situation as simple as your Internet going down for 3 days? Make sure your clients have multiple ways of contacting you. If this means calling each one from an evacuation center to let them know you will contact them again when you are back in the office, do it.

6) Replacement. Do you have other virtual assistants in place that can cover you while you are in an emergency situation? This is important if you find yourself not being able to do your work for more than a day or two. Find someone located in a different region or state who can competently help you out. This might as simple as having them contact your clients when you are unable to.

7) Family. Make plans for your family and pets. Contact your local emergency measures organization and find out what they recommend you have on hand to be prepared. They know what you need and how to help you plan for emergencies. Make sure your family knows the plan and make sure this plan has provisions for your pets. There is no sense having a great plan if no one knows what it is.

Just because you might find yourself in a bad situation due to fire, flood, hurricane, etc., doesn't mean that your business should be wiped out. If you plan ahead, your business will survive and your clients will appreciate that you included their needs in your emergency plans.