From the Author:
I originally wrote this article in 2017 for the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland, and upon review it seems that not much has changed.
We still visit businesses weekly that are vastly under insured, under backed up and under prepared for unexpected and potentially disastrous events.
So how about you?
It was 6:36pm on a Saturday night when the first text message came in: “Catastrophic fire danger forecast. Avoid bush fire prone areas. Consider leaving now or early in the morning.” The messages continued further into the night “It is unlikely a fire can be stopped in catastrophic conditions. Activate fire and evacuation plans now.”
“Catastrophic fire danger forecast. Avoid bush fire prone areas. Consider leaving now or early in the morning.”
We don’t just live in our home, it is also our company hub. It houses and runs several businesses including equipment, vehicles and servers. Our home and our livelihood was now smack bang in the middle of a catastrophic bushfire zone.
As the sun rose on Sunday morning all we could do was prepare and wait. Thankfully for us we escaped the day with zero threat, but just two hours north of us other families were not so lucky.
This is life, living and working in a rural community and we were prepared for the worst. But disaster can strike anywhere and at any time and there are a few simple things you can do right now that will take the sting out of any nasty surprises.
Do you have the correct insurance?
As soon as I read the word insurance I get an instant headache. Which company, which policy? Do I really need to be insured against an alien abduction? (yes, you really can!)
A disaster can come in many forms and to be adequately insured against a disaster you should consider being covered for things like:
1. Loss of Income/Business profits
2. Professional Indemnity (if required)
3. Public Liability
4. Hacking and Virus attacks
5. Stock on Hand
Hacking and Virus insurance policies are relatively new and not many people are aware of them. They have come about due to our increased reliance on technology and increases in hacking events as well as virus and ransomware attacks such as crypto-locker.
The reality is operating without insurance or underinsured is a dangerous game. Insurance brokers can quickly and easily find a policy to suit whatever type of business you may be in.
Have you backed up your business?
It’s still a fact that in 2017 many businesses simply don’t have sufficient backups in place. Just this week we were called to a business who lost a computer in an electrical storm. Straight away we could see MYOB data was lost (they were running an outdated version). Further auditing revealed their POS data had not been backed up since June 2016, and it was a file on the same PC. All data was lost.
With the emergence of “cloud” software, many businesses have shifted data from their computers to an external provider, this has created a shift in the psyche and business owners don’t see backups as important anymore. Or they unquestionably assume the Provider “has it covered”. This is a very dangerous attitude and often people forget about the thousands of additional files, documents and spreadsheets they use to run the day-to-day operations.
Speaking of cloud service providers, this is also a good time to think about “What will happen to my business if my Cloud Service Provider suffered a disastrous event or closed its doors?” It’s a complicated and very important question. And one every business should be able to answer. This is something that has happened before, in June 2011 5,000+ businesses lost everything when a Service Provider was wiped out in an attack.
And before you ask, NO, file sharing systems such as Drop-Box, Google Drive and OneDrive are not considered a backup solution as they can be attacked by a virus or crypto-locker just like files on your devices.
Can you change locations?
Every business is different, but one of the advantages of being a small business is you’re nimble. For example, we have all our required files backed up and on tablets and laptops. Servers can be quickly pulled from racks and our hardware business is mobile; stock lives in the vans.
We’ve planned and discussed these types of events in advance and everyone knows what to do, what to take and what to leave behind. If we had lost our house to a bushfire, our businesses would go on, our means to generate Income would not be affected. We can quickly change locations and get going again.
With effective preplanning in the event of a disaster, a retail shop can easily re-open in another shop. Café’s and restaurants the same. Any kind of ‘home business’ can be easily relocated. ‘Mobile’ business such as trades carry their tools and relocate daily. If you have the correct insurance, adequate, and regularly tested backups, and sufficient planning in place your business can be the least of your worries.