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Why your small business needs a disaster recovery plan

A disaster recovery plan is strange in that you will ideally never need to use it. Nevertheless, it's essential for your small business to have one. Without a disaster recovery plan, you're playing a very dangerous game!

Now, you may be wondering what one of these plans is and why we're claiming they're so important. So, this post will explain what a disaster recovery plan is and look at a few of the key reasons you need one in your small business.

What is a disaster recovery plan?

Some business terms are very complex and can be hard to define. Thankfully, a disaster recovery plan basically gives away the definition in its name. Essentially, this is a plan to help you recover from any disaster your business might face. Typically, your disaster recovery plan is a document that outlines what you'll do when big problems arise, and how you'll protect your company from further harm.

A lot of things will be covered in this plan; it should relate to almost every aspect of your business. One of the things you'll focus on the most is your IT system and business network. More often than not, when disaster occurs in a small business, it usually revolves around IT or technology issues. So, this plan outlines what to do if a server crashes or you lose all of your data, etc. But, it will also cover other things like how you respond to a break-in, how you react if there's a flood in your office - and so on.

Why is a disaster recovery plan important to small businesses?

There are plenty of compelling reasons to devise a disaster recovery plan for your organisation. Below, we'll look at some of the key points that help answer the above question:

Prevent data loss

All small businesses will have hoards of important data that needs to be protected. A typical disaster is when your data becomes compromised. This is either through physical means or cyber means. For example, a computer or physical server breaks down and deletes all the files stored on it. Or, a cybercriminal hacks into your network and deletes all the files you have.

In either scenario, a disaster recovery plan helps you avoid a loss of data. Your plan will include steps that ensure you never completely lose all of your data. This could mean you have backups in place that mean you may lose the original files, but you still have copies to use.

As a result, you don't have instances where loads of your customer data is lost forever. It makes the disaster easier for you to manage, and you don't have to deal with many angry customers that are furious all their data has been deleted.

Avoid angry customers

Speaking of angry customers, a disaster recovery plan can stop them from appearing! This doesn't just refer to data loss; it refers to various other disasters as well. Imagine you have a problem with your office, and all the electricity goes out. Suddenly, you can't carry out your work, which means you end up falling behind. As such, your clients get annoyed because you're not able to do the things you promised in the period you said you could. Or, think about an online business whose server goes down so no one can access their site to order products. You create unhappy and angry customers who don't have a good experience.

The knock-on effect of angry customers is that they might not come to your business again. So, if you have a disaster recovery plan in place, you'll have a solution to this problem. You might have a backup generator that brings power to your office, or a different server you can call upon to keep your website up and running.

In either case, you prevent dissatisfied customers by ensuring your business stays up and running. Therefore, they don't end up with a bad experience that might make them leave your company and never come back.

Maintain productivity

Disasters will wreak havoc on the productivity of your business as well. Now, this links into the point above about losing customers by making them angry. However, you can still go through productivity dips without your customer base being affected. Instead, you might miss out on making money because your workflow has been disrupted.

Let's say you run a business where you make a lot of sales calls. One day, there's a flood in your office, and you can't use the equipment, so you can't make sales until everything is dealt with. If you have a disaster recovery plan, then you've got means in place to ensure your workflow isn't disrupted. One part of your plan can be to plan ahead and outsource aspects of your business. For example, you can outsource the sales calls to another company, so they aren't affected by the disaster. Things in your office might be problematic, but you still get all those sales being made by the outsourced team. You've thought ahead, so you can quickly recover from this disaster without it hurting your sales.

What we're trying to say is that a good disaster recovery plan helps you maintain productivity. Your workflow doesn't get disrupted too much so you can carry on as close to normal as possible. With no plan, you might spend days doing nothing before you can finally get back to your normal productivity levels. As anyone with a business brain knows; time is money, and you can't afford to waste days doing nothing!

Protect your brand image

There are lots of disasters that can be damaging to your brand. We've spoken about data loss, and this tarnishes the image of your business. If you lose lots of sensitive information - or it gets stolen from you - then people put the blame on you. Your company looks incompetent, and you could come under scrutiny in the media.

When disasters like this happen, they get worse the longer they go on. Imagine someone steals your customer data, and you just sit back and do nothing. You leave your network open as you take ages to come up with a solution. The person that stole the data can just keep stealing more and more until they have all your customer data to themselves. The longer you leave it, the worse the problem becomes, and the more damage you do to your brand.

Disaster recovery plans help you protect your brand image. You can act fast to ensure a disaster is contained before it gets too bad. You even have plans in place to deal with things from a PR perspective as well. The way a company reacts to a disaster is arguably more important than the disaster itself. People might be angry, but they also know that everyone makes mistakes, and some cybercriminals can't be stopped. So, if you deal with things in the right way and act fast, then it softens the blow and can reflect positively on your business.

Essentially, the underlying theme here is that a disaster recovery plan protects your business. You can never predict what might happen, ever. Therefore, it's reasonable to cover your bases and plan for potential disasters. It's far easier to handle something when you've got plans in place that outline the next steps you take and how you react. Otherwise, you're acting on a whim, and this often leads to poor decision making. All small businesses will benefit from a disaster recovery plan; it's too great a risk to not have one!