Recently we have been thinking about how SMBs can better prepare for a power outage, cyber-attack, fire, flood or other disaster. When it comes to protecting your business and sensitive data, you have to think beyond a basic backup schedule and strong passwords. Creating a thoughtful disaster preparedness kit is an essential part of your business continuity plan.

If you’re not prepared, a disaster could put you and your employees at risk, possibly shutting down your business forever.  According to the Institute for Business and Home Safety, an estimated 25% of businesses do not reopen following a major disaster. The single best thing you can do for your business is to move to the cloud with technology like Office 365, which can help protect your files from hardware failure by saving multiple copies of each file on different drives and virtual servers. Also, ensure your business is protected with a strong insurance policy. Next, build a kit with these five must-have items:

  • Hard copies – Be sure to save copies of plans, insurance policies, identification cards and high-importance files in a waterproof and fireproof, portable container.
  • A generator – Investing in an emergency generator can keep your business running – and help you gain a competitive advantage during a disaster. Simply being accessible when other businesses in your area aren’t can help you gain lifelong customers.
  • Manual credit card imprinter and sales slips – Of course, I typically advocate for high-tech solutions, but in the midst of a power outage – if you don’t have a generator, a manual imprinter can help your brick and mortar location stay up and running.
  • A UPS –  An uninterrupted power supply (UPS), also known as a battery backup system, will supply a limited amount of power in the event of an electrical outage. Ideally, servers, power switches, and routers have power backups so that in the event of power loss, you are able to shut down your network without causing damage to the server and other equipment.
  • A solid communication plan – Work with employees to create a crisis communications plan to quickly re-establish network connectivity. Ensure that employee, vendor and supplier mobile voice communications aren’t reliant on a single network. Be sure to utilize multiple carriers and train all critical personnel to use text messaging as a primary communications channel during a disaster. Share your plans ahead of time with employees, key vendors and suppliers to ensure a seamless transition.

For more information on maintaining your business during a disaster, please email