How to Plan for a Disaster, Even in Chicago

It's raining again and while it doesn't mean anything to the majority of business owners, it can wreak havoc with those in low-lying areas. Most local small businesses don’t think they are in need of a disaster plan when it comes to weather emergencies – fortunately. And though the Midwest doesn’t encounter hurricanes or earthquakes, it is still subjected to flooding, tornadoes, fires and - hopefully not - terrorist attacks. Best to have a disaster plan in place just in case.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the idea of developing a disaster-recovery plan on your own, hire an expert.  Investing a few dollars now can save money — or even your entire business — down the road. But if you’re going the DIY route, follow these short rules, as advised by the NY Times:

Review insurance policies. It’s smart for any business owner to take out property insurance policies, which cover the cost of replacing damaged or destroyed equipment or buildings. But also consider business interruption insurance, which covers lost income in the event that your business is forced to shut down temporarily.

Develop a contingency plan. Come up with a list of backup vendors or suppliers in case your primary ones are shut down. Consider alternative work sites so that you can keep operating. Keep a list of twenty- four- hour emergency numbers for all your employees, and develop a quick and efficient way of keeping employees informed.

Back it up. Make backup copies of all critical records, such as accounting and employee data, customer lists, production formulas and inventory. Keep that information in a separate location at least fifty miles away, or subscribe to a online data backup service provider.”

Most small business people don’t know how to start developing a plan but there are free online resources available to help.

Don’t get caught in the rain - the SBA also provides disaster planning tips

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