Our main goal is to completely avoid any disaster affecting your business, but despite us being tech wizards we can’t always control what happens in the world.

Cyber attacks aren’t the only danger you can face – although they get a lot more media attention and hype, so we understand why you might think they are. 

Your business can also be hit by natural disasters.

Think earthquakes, floods… It doesn’t have to be Armageddon or a zombie uprising to have devastating consequences for your business.

A fire, for example, can gut your entire office in an alarmingly short space of time. All your equipment, files, everything, gone in the blink of an eye.

Would you be able to recover from that kind of loss?

Sure, insurance will cover repairing, redecorating, and replacing your equipment, but what about your files.

Your data.

Your client information. Supplier information. Internal files and processes.

If you suddenly didn’t have all of that, would you still be able to operate your business at all?

For a lot of businesses, the answer is no.

Having a disaster recovery plan is one of the major steps to ensuring business continuity in the event of an issue – be it a cyber attack or a natural disaster.  

Yet, only a few organisations have one readily available to set in motion. This is surprising given their ability to minimise the economic and practical effect of a disaster. 

Let’s face it: whatever happens, the biggest impact an incident (be it blizzard, hacker, or Godzilla herself) will have on your business is monetary

You could be slowed down, or (worse) shut down completely. 

It could take you days, weeks, months to get back up and running. In that time, you could lose clients who can’t wait around for you to sort yourself out, or who have simply lost trust in you given what’s happened… 

You could lose your business overnight.

Think of the worst possible scenario (zombies aside) and know that for someone out there, it’s not just a scenario, but a nightmare that has already come true (we’ll get to that later).

That’s why you should think about your disaster recovery plan right now and, if you already have one, why you should check it’s up-to-date and you know exactly how to implement it.

You can never be careful enough when your entire business is at stake. To help you keep it safe, here’s how you can easily implement a business continuity plan… 

What Is a Disaster Recovery Plan?

A tornado hits. 

A hacker manages to enter your business network and replaces all your valuable data with clown emojis. 

Godzilla and King Kong decide they need to settle the score in the very place you keep your servers. 

You are the victim of ransomware and you find all of your clients’ payment details frozen and in the wrong hands.

Pick your own disaster.

What comes next – after you’re left sobbing in the aftermath of an incredibly bad day? 

A disaster recovery plan is a clear set of steps you take, in the event the worst happens, that allows you to get back up and running. It ensures you have everything in place to implement that plan in the wake of a disaster, including any infrastructure, systems, or software that are required. 

What Is Business Continuity?

The bigger your business goals, the bigger disasters you may face. The smaller your business currently is, the harder it will be hit by events that larger companies might be able to shake off. 

Large or small, your business can easily face a situation that forces you to shut down. 

Quite simply, business continuity is your ability to continue running your company without interruption. It’s making sure that business activities never stop, even if they are temporarily reduced to minimum capacity while you rebuild after a disaster hits. 

Continuity means ensuring you still have access to all your client’s contact details, so you can notify them of the issues, keep them updated on how it will affect them, and ensure everything that should be delivered (be it product or service) is still delivered.

This is the difference between your business surviving a crisis while your customers experience only minor inconveniences, and you going days, weeks, even months without being able to so much as speak to clients because all their phone numbers and email addresses are lost.

You’d be surprised how often that happens!

How To Create A Business Continuity Plan…

If your first thought now is, “Great, what’s this business continuity solution going to cost me?” we get it – it seems like an expense you can put off until later.

Just be aware that statistics from 2015 show that a company can lose anywhere from £6,000 to £50,0000 in just one hour of downtime.

So the question isn’t whether you can afford to implement a continuity plan, it’s whether you can afford not to.

As the old adage goes, prevention is better than a cure. Here are some simple steps you can follow to create and implement a business continuity disaster recovery plan in your business…

Evaluate Your Disaster Recovery Requirements…

Start by evaluating what you need to keep to ensure that your business can remain active, even if only at a minimal level, should the worst happen. 

Every business has something (or several things) that they simply can’t afford to stop doing, at least not for any protracted length of time. Any disruption to these areas of your business would be potentially catastrophic. 

How Long Is Too Long?

You also need to know how long they can reasonably be down before permanent damage is caused. You then need to create a plan that ensures those systems are backed up in a way that is recoverable in the time frame you have.

In other words, if you’ve determined you can’t afford a system to be down for more than an hour, you need to put a backup in place that you can access and get fully up and running within an hour. 

Ideally, you want it to be quite a bit less than an hour, so that you have some margin for error. 

What About Full Recovery?

Getting yourself back up and running quickly is key, but often it doesn’t equate to a full recovery. You need to consider the long term as well as the short term; how long can you afford to go on at a reduced capacity? 

How long would it currently take you to get back up to full speed, if the worst happened?

You can run at reduced capacity for a short time without too much trouble. But what constitutes ‘a short time’ for you. Is it a day, a week?

Most businesses will seriously struggle to ever get back to their previous position if it takes them longer than this to fully recover all business functionality.

You need to ensure the fundamentals are back as quickly as possible, but don’t fall into the trap of thinking you can take your time with everything else.

There still needs to be a plan in place to get back to full capacity as soon as you can.

Test Your Plan Ahead And Remember To Improve It…

We’ve all had to endure the tedium of fire drills at some point. As annoying as it is to go through during a normal day, it’s essential to ensure everyone is prepared in the event of a fire, or other disaster, that requires the complete evacuation of the building.

Systems need to be tested.

Once you have your plan in place, run a complete test to ensure it is genuinely capable of getting you back up and running in the time frame you have.

Recheck this as time goes on. Your business is constantly evolving. Your recovery needs will change as you grow. So while a plan you put in place this year may work perfectly, six months from now it may struggle to ensure your complete recovery. A year from now it may fail entirely.

Keep checking back in and updating your continuity and recovery plans.  

Be Prepared For The Worst…

We enjoyed thinking about fantastic nightmare scenarios, it’s true. But now it’s time to be serious and think about what we really mean.

Be prepared for the worst. Most likely it won’t have anything to do with Godzilla, we promise. But you have to tailor both your business continuity and disaster recovery plans to the worst case scenario that could hit your activity.

As your security plans evolve, so will your worst case scenario. New malwares might be released, and climate change might affect flooding in your area… 

If the worst case scenario hits, what will happen to your business? How will you be affected? Which one of your assets will be affected the worst? Implement your strategy accordingly.

Get Help From An IT Team…

When you’re just getting started the last thing you want to think about is the ongoing expense of managed IT support. Even if you’re a well established company, you likely prefer to deal with technical issues on an ad hoc basis, as and when they become an issue.

There are several issues with handling your tech support like this, not least of which that it’s actually far more expensive in the long-run. But approaching disaster recovery from this perspective is verging on suicidal.

You’re likely thinking you can handle this without expert help, and maybe you can. If you’re reasonably technical, setting up a backup system isn’t too much of a stretch. But there are likely a lot of areas in your business that need a system in place to ensure continuity that you haven’t even thought about.

Why would you? If you’re not a tech person there are technological systems, solutions, and options that you will never have heard of before. How can you be expected to know about them and implement them when you don’t even know they exist?

Getting expert help from a team of IT professionals ensures the continuity plan you’ve put in place covers everything you need it to (as opposed to everything you know about or thought of). It also ensures you have help on hand to activate that plan should the worst occur.

You may be technical enough to put a backup system in place, but do you know enough to actually use it to fully restore your business?

Make Sure You Have Everyone’s Cooperation…

This is one point a lot of business owners overlook. Having a continuity plan in place is only effective if someone activates it in the event of an emergency.

You might now what it is, how it will work, who you need to call to kick things off etc. but does anyone else?

What if you’re unreachable?

Keeping your team – or at least, several key staff members – in the loop is the best way to ensure your plan is actually activated.

Perhaps your team works in shifts. Maybe you’re a remote-first business. Or it could be you have a hybrid team who are sometimes working remotely and sometimes on-site. Even if you have all your staff on-site at all times, that’s only during regular working hours.

What if the issue happens at 3am when everything is closed?

Or while you’re on holiday, and your manager also happens to be out sick?

Briefing your people on the plan, what’s involved, how and when it needs to be activated, and the contact details for your IT support team is essential.

In an ideal world, you should designate several staff members as disaster managers, and ensure they have all the relevant info stored on a personal phone or at home, so it’s easily accessible to at least one person, even if your business isn’t.

Think We’re Over Reacting? Here’s A Real Life Horror Story…

We speak to all our clients about creating or updating their business continuity and disaster recovery plans when we onboard them. It’s an ongoing concern we will keep circling back to until the realise how important it is, and give the green light to put something in place.

The problem we often face is that business owners don’t see the need to do it immediately. They view our warnings as prophecies of doom that are highly unlikely to happen, and refuse to put a plan in place.

Several of them have lived to reget this, as the worst did in fact happen…

Let’s take Richard as an example. That’s not his real name, but for the sake of anonymity we’ll call him Richard.

As Rich headed into work that day he had no idea anything was wrong. But when he booted his computer up, ready for another day of work, he was greeted by an ominous message informing him that he had been a victim of ransomware. 

Boom. Every file on his system was locked.

Everything he had ever worked for was gone.

If you are lucky enough to have no experience of ransomware, be grateful. Ransomware is a type of malware which threatens to publish the victim’s data or to perpetually block access to it until a ransom is paid.

Our client found all of his data frozen. It was not physically possible to access a single file on his system. All he could see was a demand for an exorbitant ransom.

And he had NO BACKUP. 

Can you see where this is going, right?

Yep, we’d spoken to him on multiple occasions about the need to backup his data and put an effective strategy in place. He’d ignored us, because it didn’t seem likely that anything that bad would happen.

He got that wrong.

Luckily for him, we were able to recover enough of his data that his business survived, and he never had to pay a penny. While this was great for him, it wasn’t a full restoration, and it was a little miraculous we were able to do it at all.

It is by no means guaranteed.

The moral to this story is that now our client has an effective backup and disaster recovery plan in place, ready to use should something catastrophic happen again.

In trying to avoid the expense of implementing a plan, Richard cost himself a hell of a lot more in lost data, and still had to spend the money putting a plan in place.

You know that advert for breakdown recovery with the young lad who wanted to save the money and spend it on a pair of jeans? He’s stranded at the side of the road with a busted car, and oil all over that nice pair of designed jeans he bought.

It’s like that.

Are You Ready To Secure Your Business?

We understand the struggles that come from running a small business and the anxiety that stems from considering the worst. It is, however, a necessary step if you want to avoid a very expensive – and potentially fatal – incident. 

Book a Free Audit now and we’ll assess your business needs, figure out exactly what you need in place to ensure your business continuity, and implement everything for you.

We’ll also be right here to help you activate that plan. Should the worst happen, you’ll be well prepared, and you won’t be alone…


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