Thursday, March 24, 2011

Is your Business REALLY disaster ready??

The last month has shown many people in both Christchurch  a whole new perspective of what being prepared for a disaster can mean. There is a lot of information out there on having emergency kits ready at home and plans for handling yourself and you family in the immediate days after a disaster.
Yet something that is causing a huge amount of stress, hassle and frustration for many in Christchurch is the impact this disaster is having on businesses.

On the 22nd of February 2011 at 12.51pm everything stopped, 4 weeks later coffee cups still sit on tables in Cashel Mall, food still sits on shop shelves, lap tops and computers lay open, books and files left in place, cars remain parked in parking buildings, luggage still sits in hotel rooms, cash registers still open and handbags sit in Cafes. It is like time stopped as people fled the buildings they had been in when the 6.3 quake struck.

The people who fled these buildings were the customers, tourists, staff and the Business Owners. Most of the tourists have gone home, the customers went home, the staff have no job and the business owners have no access. This is an incredibly damaging situation for a business owner to be in.

There is increasing rage and frustration from the business owners as they wait for the green light to reenter their business premises and contents. There is no money coming in to those businesses, yet suppliers still send invoices and some customers still query for services and product. It is a disaster driven sense of limbo. In Christchurch these businesses are not limited to just the CBD, but many suburban businesses are effected as well.

 Now business owners are blaming the powers that be for ruining their potential to reopen and salvage their businesses. Buildings have been demolished without business owners having the opportunity to reclaim contents, blame is being laid on the powers that be as well. However the true demon in this situation was a natural disaster a devastating earthquake, and measures need to be taken to ensure the future safety of our city and its citizens and visitors.

A natural disaster like and Earthquake, is a mean evil bastard that creeps up on you with no warning and kills indiscriminately. This immediate impact is shocking and destructive, but the longer term effect is what we all need to prepare for.

As a business owner I have made it my responsibility to ensure that if my office were to be inaccessible for any reason I could get myself up and running again with the minimum of inconvenience to myself, staff and customers. By doing so I have worked to protect a valuable asset, my business, however nothing though can prepare or protect anyone from the shock and disbelief that will be part of the process.

These are some of the things I have done:

* INSURANCE - A business must have insurance, this is not a luxury this is essential and not negotiable. Insure your business  premises, stock, assets, business interruption, income protection, equipment. Have it covered or risk losing it. If you cannot afford to insure your business you cannot afford to be in business.

* BACK UP DATA - I use a service in Christchurch NEXUS this is an offsite back up of all my electronic data. If I lose my computers or they get damaged the information is only a phone call away. I have called on this once when my laptop hard drive crashed. It was no hassle and worth he investment.

* CLOUD COMPUTING - Store information in the "cloud", let others know where it is so if you were not available someone else can access it and get things up and running. I use this for simple but important things like a database of who my insurance is with, current customer list, supplier list, how to contact nexus etc. That way someone in another country could begin actioning things for me if I was incapacitated.

These are just three simple, effective and essential business disaster recovery items that everyone should be doing. If you have not got a Disaster Recovery Plan in place for your business, then make it number one on your to-do list. Get onto it because you could need it anytime, yet I sincerely hope you never need it.

Always remember though that lives and people are far more valuable than buildings and contents. Buildings and Contents can be rebuilt and replaced, however lives can never be replaced and the hole left by the loss of a person is far greater that that of losing material things. So prepare for the risk now so that you will not feel the need to take risks when it is too late.

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