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Nothing in life is certain or stagnant. This applies to operating a small business just as much as anything else. The sudden and unexpected death of a business partner, a natural disaster that destroys all business equipment, and cyberattacks that threaten company security and public perception are just some examples of things that can go wrong. While it can be impossible to predict such events, creating a response plan in advance can reduce the impact on a small business.

Consider How the Business Would Operate in the Event of an Emergency

Some of the most common types of emergency events to affect a business include fire, theft, flooding and other severe weather conditions, and vandalism. Creating a plan outlining how the business would continue to operate after experiencing such an emergency is essential to continue serving customers and prevent large-scale losses.

One key feature of an emergency plan is describing how essential employees can access data remotely. It should also provide information about applicable insurance policies, including policy numbers and who to contact to initiate a claim. It’s a good idea to review all insurance coverage before a disaster strikes. At a minimum, policies should cover physical damage as well as provide income in case of business interruption.

Critical documents should be stored electronically with backup capabilities so essential staff can access them from home. It’s also a good idea to make a second copy of important physical documents and store them in an off-site location.

Create a Cyberattack Recovery Plan

Unfortunately, cyberattacks are becoming more common and more sophisticated all the time. Small business owners sometimes wrongly assume they don’t have to be as careful because online criminals will only go after the big Fortune 500 companies. The opposite is actually true. Many cybercriminals prefer going after the private electronic data of small businesses because they figure that company management won’t have sufficient resources to guard against a cyberattack or that they will be more lax about it.

Small business employees unknowingly open up their employers to attacks with behavior such as clicking links in suspicious emails or opening attachments from an unknown sender. For this reason, owners must make employee security training a priority.

It’s best to store the company’s backup plan in the cloud to make it easy to access if the main system experiences a cyberattack. A security expert should review the backup plan to ensure that it covers everything and that an attack on the main system won’t affect it. The backup plan should include customer and vendor data, order information, and accounting details at a minimum.

Plan for Succession

No one likes to think that they, a business partner, or executive will die unexpectedly or become unable to work due to serious injuries or illness. However, unexpected and tragic events happen all the time. Close family members of all key personnel should have access to information that can help them make decisions in the loved one’s absence. They should also have a key or security code to get into the building itself. Other members of leadership will need to know who has access to what information.

Including information on how to notify vendors, clients, customers, and employees of the situation is another essential part of the succession plan. Lastly, it should clearly outline who will operate the company during a short-term or long-term absence of the owner and who will replace him or her in case of death or early retirement due to medical issues.

Rickhoff & Associates assists small business owners with these and other concerns every day.  We provide a personal, one-on-one approach, with the experience and expertise of a larger firm. Please contact us to learn more about how we can help you be even more successful.

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