By Jay Acker
It's tempting to believe that the worst will never happen in our town (or to our home office), but the wild weather in recent years proves that no region is immune from a natural disaster. Just like any business strategy, the key to surviving a catastrophe and getting your home office back in business is to plan ahead.
Developing an emergency response plan is a good way to begin. Consider the potential natural disasters that could occur where you live and then create a written plan that addresses the necessary steps towards helping your home business make a speedy rebound. The quicker you can recover from the setbacks of a natural disaster, the less downtime and loss of revenue you'll suffer.
Here are three tips to keep your home business running after a natural disaster.
1. Prepare for Your Own Safety
Who's going to micromanage if you're shacked up in the hospital? Chances are if you're running your business from home, you don't have an extensive staff to pick up the slack in your absence, so make sure that your response plan prioritizes your own well-being.
The time to prepare and stock up on survival supplies is now, not when the disaster is impending. Evaluate your needs and stock your home with the necessary items to get you through the worst possible scenario.
First aid kits, potable water, and non-perishable foods are a good place to begin.
One of my recommendations is to download the applicable American Red Cross apps to your mobile device. They will prompt your planning now and be handy for emergency first aid or shelter information when you may need it.
2. Standby Generators
If the idea of losing power to your office for even an hour gives you pause, you may want to invest in a standby generator to run critical circuits and keep you going at your desk while crews struggle to restore power to the neighborhood.
Standby generators generally run anywhere between $2,000 to $15,000, but will quickly pay for themselves when they contradict possible gaps in your business day in the event of a power outage. You'll find that they will serve you two purposes: keeping all of your business-related appliances on the front lines and powering the rest of your home (kitchen appliances, air conditioning, etc.) to keep you and your family comfortable until power is restored.
Standby generators are installed outside, tied directly into the house’s electrical system and have an automatic transfer switch where you can decide what essential appliances or part of the home to provide power to.
Knowing what you need to power will help you decide how much wattage you need. A personal computer may only require 200 to 300 watts; while air conditioning, refrigerator, or a security system may need up to 6,000 watts each.
3. Data Backup
Most home business owners don't have the luxury of an extensive, costly, powerhouse backup server that one might find in a corporate setting. Now imagine what you would do if all the files, documents, e-mails, and contact information on your business computer suddenly disappeared. If your business would be damaged by that catastrophe (whose wouldn’t?), then you need to back up your data.
The main options are: backing up files onto an external hard drive, putting critical files onto a cloud service or signing up for a professional service that automatically backs up the files on your computer while you work.
The advantage of an external hard drive is you have it right there. If your computer dies, just plug the hard drive into a new one. You have the most control over an external hard drive, but if you keep it right next to your computer when disaster strikes it may be damaged as well.
That is why it is important to have a backup of your data stored away from your home office. Google Drive and Dropbox offer free and paid online storage for documents that you manually put in there, but there are options that automatically back up your documents while you work that start at around $5 a month.
Two popular and trusted remote data backup services are Carbonite and Mozy, but Backblaze is a popular startup. Shop around. Every one provides different levels of service, storage, and pricing strategies so you can choose one that fits your business needs.
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