Business owner standing outside restaurant wearing a mask.
A catastrophe doesn't have to spell the end of your business, as long as you make a plan to recover from disaster. — Getty Images/Charli Bandit

It’s not always possible to avoid the business fallout of a disaster like a pandemic, earthquake, or cybersecurity breach. But you can build a recovery plan to get your business up and running ASAP. Here are six steps you can take to get started.

Review your insurance coverage

Having the right business insurance can be crucial to surviving a disaster. You should regularly review your policies to ensure there are no gaps in your coverage.

For instance, if you live in an area that regularly experiences earthquakes, you want to ensure your policy will protect your business against these risks. You also want to ensure that your insurance will cover the disruption to your company and pay for damages.

[Read more: How to Choose Cyber Insurance]

Audit your business resources

Next, you want to audit all critical business resources, including:

  • Equipment and other assets.
  • Perishable resources or products.
  • Staff members.
  • Property or real estate.

Once your audit is complete, you’ll know what your business stands to lose if it’s exposed to different types of emergencies. For instance, your business could sustain a lot of physical damage during a flood.

But your business may suffer economic damage during a cybersecurity hack. Auditing your business resources will help you determine which areas of your business to focus on.

Have a plan to backup your data

You must have a reliable data backup plan before disaster strikes. Over 50% of businesses aren’t prepared for a significant data loss, and 60% of those companies end up going out of business within six months.

It’s best to have multiple data backup plans in place. For instance, you could buy and use an external hard drive to back up your company’s data. And you should also backup your data in the cloud so that you can access it from anywhere.

[Read more: What Is the 3-2-1 Backup Rule?]

Over 50% of businesses aren’t prepared for a significant data loss, and 60% of those companies end up going out of business within six months.

Make a list of key employees

The next step is determining which employees are critical to your business functions. For instance, your IT team would be critical in keeping your electronic processes functioning properly in an emergency, whereas sales reps may not be as necessary.

When an emergency strikes, you should immediately reach out to the employees and internal partners that can help keep your business running. No one can fully recover from a disaster on their own, so utilizing the right people will make your recovery efforts much smoother.

Communicate with your customers

No matter what kind of disaster you encounter, it’s key to have a plan for communicating with your customers. For instance, if your company was the victim of a security breach, you should let your customers know what happened and what steps you’re taking to mitigate the damage.

Make sure your customers know what’s happening and how to get in touch with you. It’s also a good idea to pick one employee to monitor your social media networks and answer questions.

[Read more: 5 Crisis Communication Best Practices Every Small Business Should Know]

Apply for the Small Business Readiness for Resiliency Program

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation partnered with FedEx to create the Small Business Readiness for Resiliency (R2R) Program. The R2R program encourages businesses to prepare for natural disasters before they occur and awards grants to businesses in qualifying areas.

You’ll start by downloading FedEx’s Emergency Preparedness Checklist for Small Businesses. This checklist will help you create an Emergency Action Plan for your business.

From there, you’ll apply online and provide more details about your business. If you apply before a disaster strikes in your area, you may be selected to receive a grant to help your business recover.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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