The disaster in the Gulf of Mexico courtesy of the good folks at British Petroleum (BP) shows what can happen when a company doesn’t really take the time to think things through regarding disasters or the unexpected. Of course, in BP’s case, that latter doesn’t really apply since they knew full well what might happen if they cut corners. Back to the article at hand: how to prepare your business for the disaster you don’t see coming.
The first thing you will wan to do is create a systemic plan for reaction. This means that every employee is aware of the route toward overcoming the business disaster from the CEO down to the guys in the mail room. This will be easier for small businesses, of course.
One thing you want to make sure you put into that disaster recovery plan is data recovery. The entire working world of America is based upon there always being electricity and computers. Guess what: There was no electricity or computers working in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Don’t allow natural or man-made disasters to destroy your records. Back them up not just on data drives, but go ahead and opt for the warehouse in Kansas.
Communication is key to overcoming a business disaster. Your advanced phone system may go out and terrorists may one day realize that a much better target for bringing down America are all those cell phone towers rather than another tall office building. In the event of a disaster that takes down the phone grid in American, most businesses would be, well, completely shut down. Which, capitalistically speaking, makes those who are prepared to communicate without phones the Big Dog leading the pack regardless of that fact that you as an amoeba to the big boys who decided to depend only on a phone system.
Get yourself a backup power supply as well. A private generator for a small business really wouldn’t cost that much and would be an especially good investment if your competitors were not as forward thinking of you in times of citywide trouble. The backup power system is really more for a natural disaster or criminal endeavor that threatens to bring the hammer down upon the city at large. Whether you live where there are earthquakes, hurricanes or twisters, it pays to be prepared to deal with the worst that Big Mama Nature can throw your way.
As for those company-specific disasters, you would do well to create a War Room where your top executives know to meet. You would probably want to place this War Room somewhere besides your business location if you want to avoid the press while you cook up an excuse to tell the press when you’re finally read to meet the press.
First Aid Kits
First aid kits are rare among companies. Prior to 9/11, most first aid kits probably consisted of Band-Aids and headache medicine. You never know what the disaster you can’t seem coming will look like. Having a defibrillator may save lives. At the very least, have enough aspirin on hand for those who may be suffering the beginning of a heart attack.
Police, Paramedics and Firemen
Get to know your police officers and fire rescue workers. You may need to depend on them in times of crisis. Invite them out for a free picnic to get to know your employees and arrange for them to offers a demonstration of proper responses to disaster ranging from fire to hostage situations.