The cruel and fickle hand of Mother Nature has dealt a mighty blow to the Gulf Coast, ironically ushering in September, also known as National Preparedness Month, and tragically affecting many lives. While serving as a horrific reminder that disaster can cause mass destruction, the lesson for small businesses is that contingency planning is really a year-round effort.
Should disaster strike, saving lives, of course, is paramount, and hopefully the lessons of Katrina will serve us to better react in the future. But one thing is for sure: you’re the only one who is going to look out for your business. (Not to mention that human error, far more common than Mother Nature’s nastiness, is ever-present and can also wreak havoc on day-to-day operations.) Whether or not you live in a region prone to catastrophic calamities, planning for the survival of your business is imperative to long-term success, and yet, so many fail to do so.
Consider this: Only 23 percent of small businesses back up their data to a separate, secure off-site facility, according to an HP 2005 Small Business Survey conducted with Harris Polls.
The stakes are high, with the very survival of a firm on the line. Industry analysts Gartner say 50 percent of small and mid-sized companies will go out of business within three years if lost data can’t be recovered within 24 hours, yet nearly 40 percent don’t back up their data at all, with only a quarter of small businesses having a recovery plan in place.
Furthermore, a University of Texas study of disaster-struck enterprises shows that 43 percent never re-opened with 51 percent closing within two years.
When it comes to data security, the numbers are no better. A Small Business Technology Institute/Symantec survey found that 75 percent do no formal planning to counter IT threats, though 56 percent have experienced at least one incident in the past 12 months.
An Ounce of Prevention
The good news is that planning for a crisis is far easier than enduring one. HP and Symantec teamed up to offer the Crisis Preparedness Resource (CPR) Guide: The HP Smart Office QuickGuide to Information Security for SMBs.
A launching pad for executing prevention measures, establishing a contingency plan and recovering data, HP’s Small Business Protection site serves as a valuable resource for the overwhelmed SMB-owner who doesn’t know where to begin.