Create a Disaster Recovery Plan for Your Small Business

How to Create a Disaster Recovery Plan for Your Small Business

By Allie Johnson
Published: June 19, 2017 | The Hartford Small Biz Ahead

Any small business can get turned upside down by an unexpected event whether it’s from COVID-19, a wildfire or a hurricane. But having a disaster plan in place can help get you back in business quickly.

In fact, lack of planning contributes to a surprising statistic: as many as 25% of small businesses never reopen following a major disaster, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). This means that getting up and running again quickly is crucial for business survival.

Recent disasters that have impacted small businesses include:

  • Hurricane Sandy hitting the East Coast
  • Tropical Storm Karen hitting Puerto Rico
  • A tornado in Joplin MO
  • Wildfires in California

Even a small storm that causes a power outage can grind your business to a temporary halt. However, proper business insurance coverage and having crisis management strategies in place will help your business weather any storm.

The Small Business Administration and other organizations offer an array of resources that can help you create a small business disaster plan so your company can recover.

11 Steps to Create a Disaster Action Plan for Your Business

It’s important to create a written plan and update it yearly. To see how you can get started, read through 11 actions small business owners can take below:

Start with a checklist. 

A business disaster checklist offers an overview of the components of a small business recovery plan. Keep it handy as you create your plan, and check off each completed action to make sure you don’t miss a crucial step. A checklist should include sections on communications, data, employees, operations and safety.

Prepare for risks. 

Learn the specific types of hazards your business is likely to face and what to do during and immediately after these disasters. Review a checklist specific to disasters in your area. This can be for:

  • Earthquakes
  • Hurricanes
  • Tornados
  • Wildfires
  • Winter weather

On top of this, you should learn about the warning systems used in your community, and designate locations for you and your employees to seek shelter if necessary. To make sure you’re alerted promptly to any impending problem, you can buy a National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio with a tone alert feature. This will warn you 24 hours a day about natural disasters, other hazards like chemical or oil spills, and temporary 911 outages in your area.

Get help from disaster experts. 

Sign up for the Red Cross Ready Rating program, which can provide business preparedness training to help you ensure that you are ready to face a weather catastrophe or other disaster. Experts may have recommendations to make your business safer, such as installing shutters to protect windows and inexpensive emergency lights that turn on during power outages. The Red Cross also recommends that you make sure your small business is properly protected by business insurance and that you check into business continuity insurance.

Create an emergency kit. 

You, your employees and customers could get stuck in your business unexpectedly due to extreme weather or even a freak occurrence like a hazardous materials spill from a tipped truck. A small business should have an emergency kit containing enough non-perishable food, bottled water and other supplies to last multiple people for 72 hours. Your kit should include:

  • A can opener
  • Flashlights and extra batteries
  • First-aid supplies
  • A first-aid reference book

Designate a recovery team. 

Choose a small group of employees who will take action in the immediate aftermath of an incident. Assign an employee to be a crisis manager and another to be their backup. You can then assign other employees to work on the recovery team. It’s important to meet with these employees to clearly outline their roles and responsibilities…(More)


To read the full article by Allie Johnson, visit: How to Create a Disaster Recovery Plan for Your Small Business