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Small Businesses Need Disaster Recovery Plans

What is the most important thing to remember when creating a disaster recovery plan?

Boyd: My first piece of advice is to try and keep it simple. Try and tackle this in bite-sized blocks. A lot of people get stalled. They don't know where to begin and just never begin. They can do very simple tasks.

About 65% of recovery we make include the need for us to bring power generator because they've lost power. If you know that there's the likelihood that you're going to need power, today find out what kind of generator you need. Do you need a small one that you can get from Home Depot (HD - Get Report) or Lowe's (LOW - Get Report) or a big one [closer in size] to a tractor trailer?

Any electrician can tell you how big of a generator you need. Do you need permission from you landlord? Those aren't hard things to figure out, but if you don't know them, all of those things are going to delay your recovery.

Communication is another huge thing that people forget about. A lot of those alternative communication tools are free. Set up a Facebook (FB) page; have a system to send out text messages. Set them up and practice them. The first time to get info to your employees shouldn't be the day after the disaster.

Of course disaster planning differs by geography, but what other factors can go into a plan?

Boyd: The damage caused from an ice storm can be very different from water damage when the Mississippi river floods. A tornado in Oklahoma as bad as it was, it only hit one city. A hurricane like Sandy impacted 15 different states. The response times are different [and so] you're communication tools and planning are different.

Most businesses think they have to get a disaster recovery plan because of a big disaster. They're worried about an earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes. The reality of it is, 70% of the recoveries that we make are due to something that just happens to that individual business. It was because there was a fire or that guy's computer failed.

[For businesses in Oklahoma] every one of their customers are going to cut them a little slack because they know what happened. But if you happen to be in Minnesota and don't answer the phone or maybe you're Web site goes down and they don't know why, they're going to call somebody else.

The disaster that happens to an individual business is many times more disruptive than the natural disaster.

Boyd recommend several resources for business owners to help them get started.
  • The SBA and Agility Recovery are working together to encourage all small businesses to have a recovery plan in place. SBA's programs and services are targeted specifically to small businesses. Agility Recovery Solutions offers testable, turn-key disaster recovery solutions and business continuity services for small and mid-size businesses.
  • FEMA's Agility does a lot of work with FEMA to help create preparedness awareness including tips and webinars.

On Tuesday, Agility and the SBA will present a free webinar " Protect Your Business This Hurricane Season" at 2pm ET.

-- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.

To contact Laurie Kulikowski, send an email to:

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Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.
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