What Colorado Businesses Should Know About Disaster Preparedness
Just because hurricanes and earthquakes are unlikely here, Colorado businesses should be careful not to be lulled into a false sense of security
While the east coast has its hurricanes and the west coast has its earthquakes, Colorado surprisingly remains one of the states least likely to suffer a natural disaster. Running a business in an area that isn’t as prone to frequent flooding or fires may give Colorado businesses peace of mind that their coastal counterparts can’t enjoy.
At the same time, Colorado businesses should be careful not to be lulled into a false sense of security. Fluke natural disasters – such as the Hayman fire in Pike National Forest and the floods of 2013 – can occur at any time. Other tragedies, such as electronic misadventures or cyber-attacks can affect any computer connected to the web, regardless of geography. More minor troubles, such as a break-in that happens after an employee neglects to lock a door after closing for the night, can also happen to any business at any time making the need for businesses to be proactive in their preparedness protocols crucial.
For that reason, Colorado-based businesses should join organizations across the country this month to prepare for the cyber, natural or accidental disaster. September is National Preparedness Month, which means it is a great time to consider how you’ll enable your business to survive a disaster with minimal disruption to operations and limited lost revenue.
In this article, we’ll discuss four ways to prepare for – and survive – an accidental, natural or cyber disaster.
- MAKE A BUSINESS CONTINUITY PLAN
When a disaster strikes a business that hasn’t planned, work stops. Employees who can’t pass snow-covered roads and don’t have power at home can’t support clients. Hard drives that lose data to a spilled glass of water mean business owners must spend their Mondays apologizing to customers instead of exceeding expectations.
But businesses that have a continuity plan can continue operating without interruption.
Similar to an emergency preparedness plan for ensuring your family’s safety, a continuity plan is a way of deciding how you will keep operating before a disaster hits. You may want to consider setting up designated remote workstations or purchasing WiFi hotspots for employees. You may also want to designate a chain of command if you or other leaders are unavailable during a disaster.
- GIVE REAL-TIME ACCESS TO IMPORTANT FILES
A mudslide doesn’t care if your quarterly taxes are due. A frozen pipe that floods your office is uninterested in how many bills are due. But if you are the only person in charge of your financial documents and your office is the only place where they are stored, even a small disaster could have a lasting impact on your ability to keep its financial house in order.
To avoid this kind of situation, consider using accounting and bookkeeping software to keep all of your financial records accessible to strategic partners who can operate on your behalf. By giving access to your accountants and bookkeepers, you’ll be able to ensure they can continue to access your records and prepare your returns, even if you aren’t able to get to them yourself.
- ENSURE ALL FINANCIAL RECORDS ARE BACKED UP TO THE CLOUD
While it’s true that keeping a digital backup of your paper receipts and invoices is a good start, it’s not enough. External hard drives stored in a flooded office can be damaged irreparably just as paper can be destroyed. And if your only backup is on your computer, all of your important records can be lost in a cyber or ransomware attack.
The only true way to ensure your records survive a disaster is to back them up to the cloud. This will ensure that no matter what happens to your office or to your own personal devices, your records can still be accessed – and you won’t lose the receipts for important deductible expenses that you’ll want to include on your tax returns.
- CONSIDER RISK INSURANCE
At the end of the day, certain disasters are an inevitable part of business. Even if you do everything right, things can still go wrong. And even if you live in a part of the country that sees few natural disasters, a tiny accident can have a large an impact.
To protect yourself and your business, consider risk insurance as another tool in your tool chest. Having risk insurance for your small business could help you recoup the losses you may incur during a disaster so that a disaster doesn’t become catastrophic.
As the temperatures start to drop, many Coloradans start to think about all the activities that make this state such a great place to live. Between the autumnal hiking and the winter skiing, there’s a lot to look forward to. But at the same time, September is also a good opportunity to stop and consider your business’s ability to survive a disaster before winter weather hits, bringing blizzards, ice storms, and interruptions with it. The better you prepare today, the safer your business will be tomorrow.
Kevin Miller is the CMO of the Neat Company.