Preparing for a catastrophic disaster (fire, tornado, etc.) is essential for every business owner. The Ad Council reported that, based on a recent national survey, only 38% of businesses have an emergency plan in place. Strangely, 90% said that it is “somewhat” or “very” important for businesses to prepare. There is obviously a discrepancy between what business owners know they need and actually do it.

Taking care of customers, fulfilling orders, meeting with potential customers and all the other daily activities required of a small-to-medium sized business owner, make it difficult to find the time to create a disaster plan. Awareness for the need of a plan to deal with business interruption is high. Execution of this awareness falls short.

Disaster preparedness, or a business continuity plan, increases a business’ security and stability. This plan also provides an intangible - but very real – benefit. It also provides peace of mind for the owner as well as the employees.

The Department of Homeland Security’s website offers a significant amount of information to assist business owners in creating a continuity/disaster recovery plan. Three key steps towards disaster recovery are:

Protect your investment:
- Review your insurance coverage annually with your insurance agent
- Inform your insurance agent of any major changes during the year
- Create an inventory of all business assets
- Back up all records with an encrypted, on-line backup service

Plan to stay in business:
- Create a written emergency procedures checklist
- Compile an emergency contact list
- Determine a potential alternative business location
- Secure backup suppliers

Talk to your employees:
- Get your employees’ involvement and buy-in to the process
- Advise your staff of emergency supplies that your business can provide
- Develop, communicate and practice an evacuation plan

These are just the beginning, but a very important start. Proper planning now will help ensure recovery from a disaster of any kind, from a computer crash to total destruction from a fire or natural disaster. This proactive measure will help ensure that your business can recover and reopen quickly. But there is more to this than just reopening – you are honoring your commitment to your employees, customers and the local economy.

Schedule blocks of time on your calendar to create your plan. It is important enough to set time aside for this very time-consuming task. If time and manpower are not available, there are many business continuity planning companies that can help you create your plan. They will learn about your business, your facility and your processes. Then they will create a plan specific to your needs.

Author's Bio: 

Cindy Hartman is President of Hartman Inventory, a woman-owned business that provides business and home inventory services. She and her husband Mike also own Hartman Inventory Systems, a complete turnkey home inventory business package for those who want to establish their own inventory company. Cindy writes a blog and is also a freelance writer on topics of disaster preparedness and recovery, small business, product reviews, marketing and networking.

She also serves on the Advisory Board of the International MasterMind Group with Success Coaches Institute where she shares her knowledge and experience on topics of business ownership, entrepreneurship, having a positive attitude and the law of attraction.