Hey guys, welcome to this episode of the Business Bites podcast. I am Rachel Brenke and I want to talk about some very news relevant types of things that are going on.
Right now, we have seen some crazy weather this year. I’m based in the United States and we’ve had hurricanes in Texas, Florida. We even had reports of earthquakes and then we have all the fires on the West Coast. And things are just absolutely terrifying to many people including, and especially small businesses.
And it becomes very unfortunate when you see that so many small businesses have lost so much. So I wanted to take a little bit of time to kind of help you guys decide what you can do before disaster strikes in the future. It may not necessarily help those that are going through it now. Many of these had to have lost their business, in the blink of an eye, it’s all been gone.
I share this article, not as a way to capitalize on the disaster stuff that’s going on, but just this podcast as a way to help you guys understand how you can try to prevent or minimize the harmful impacts and future devastations that will occur, because life does happen. It will occur. Take these actions into mind, whether you live in a hurricane location or not, cause destruction, devastation, death, divorce, disability, all of this can happen no matter where you live. So I want to make sure that you guys are somewhat prepared.
For any business that is out there, I would imagine, especially if you’re, obviously, listening to this podcast, that you work in tech and based in technology that means that many, many, many of you are running a lot of your businesses through your website and/or computer. We primarily run our businesses using this technology.
So the need for backups is always present. We need to have backups that include our computer hard drives on the cloud such as Dropbox or CrashPlan. And then other offsite backups that are not necessarily cloud-based.
Myself, I have my computer hard drive, then I have a Seagate External hard drive, that I’ll link in the podcast notes, and then I also have Dropbox that runs that I can save things directly to. And I also have CrashPlan that runs a routine backup as well. So I’ve got a couple of different backups going on that way I have physical, I have in the cloud. I have two different cloud backups actually so that you guys are able to have everything backed up all the time. I love the fact, with Dropbox and cloud, such as CrashPlan is that it automatically does it for me.
CrashPlan does my entire computer. Dropbox, I just have to make sure that I put everything into it as well. Note, none of these are sponsors of this podcast. This is just what I use and wanted to share with you. There’re other systems out there such as Backblaze, Google Drive and so forth that you can also have backups. The items that you want to make sure specifically that you’re backing up contracts and all of other legal documents, such just formation certificates, operating agreements, tax permits, insurance policies, all of your client information, customer information. Make sure all that secure and saved in one place as well. Any templates and copy and content that you created in the course of your business, images that you’ve either taken or you’ve had someone take for your business, and any other texts, any other intellectual property, any other things that are related to your business to help it to run, all needs to be saved up there.
So what did I really leave left? Maybe the cat, memes and gifts that you get off of Facebook, right? Those don’t necessarily need to be backed up unless they’re an integral part of your business. All of the very important contract client information, legal documents, insurance policies, templates, and any intellectual property needs to be put into these backups.
The second step is for you guys to have a contingency plan. I mean, what is your plan if disaster hits? The hope is that you’ll have all the sensitive information accessible, by a cloud or offsite backup, as we just talked about. And also hope that you have a designated individual to make contact to your clients or customers if you’re unable to do so. This can go with whether something is as big as like a hurricane coming at you or something very individuals such as I had happened to me. I was struck with cancer and went into surgery very quickly when it was found.
So honestly, I’m not saying that you guys need to get in contact with a client about maybe it’s photography session or you’re designing a logo for them or maybe it’s even just letting your customers know that you’re closing your shop down. You don’t need to do that if the hurricane is at your door and you’re evacuating or you’re running into surgery at that moment for cancer, right? But there is a point where you need to reach out and talk to your clients or your customers. So have a system set up to ensure that you have all this contact information backed up and accessible. And also highlight somebody to be the point person to contact these people if you’re unable to do so. My biggest thing is to have a running email list so that I can just one-click email everyone to tell them what’s going on and also be able to easily put up a notice on my website.
Another thing to think about is what if something happens to you and your clients are waiting your services. Maybe it’s not a wide scale disaster and your clients are impacted. Who is your designated individual to reach out to them on your behalf? Also, what about the needing to finish out business and wrap up business in case of your death or extreme disability? Have you designated this person and have you left behind the proper directions and legal documents? Unfortunately, oftentimes, people haven’t identified someone. Many don’t go into business thinking about the worse, but the reality is life exist. We’ve seen this recently. We never know when life will happen because it does. So make sure that you are prepared with this.
Number three, and this is one that really came to my mind when I was watching these horrible images of wildfires and the hurricanes and watching these business owners lose everything, was I wonder if they have savings? Yes, hopefully, they had insurance. Hopefully, they had backup plans, but also hopefully, that they had a savings line item in their budget, because my question to you is, are you financially prepared to sustain your business costs if disaster strikes and you’re unable to take on clients or customers or fulfill existing contracts?
I mean the bills needed for your business to run, as well as any income that your family depends on, does not simply go away because disaster has struck it. If disaster does happen, I want you to try to reach out to businesses requesting your bill payment. They may offer some grace and work with you, but please do not rely on and count on that. Instead, I need you to reach into a real emergency savings line item, that you’ve put into your budget, that you’ve been paying into consistently over time. I’m not talking about this rainy day fund that many small business owners stick into their budget, but then they use when they get an impulse because they want to upgrade their laptop or get some new fancy equipment or update their office, right? We’re not talking about an umbrella rainy day fund, but more of a potential evacuation from a hurricane, rainy day type fund.
Number four, and I mentioned this just a little bit ago, make sure you have your insurance policies. This one sounds obvious, but for many, you guys will overlook this in business. Ensure that all of your property is insured properly. All of the integral equipment that you need, your laptops. If you are a graphic designer, maybe all of the Wacom pins and everything that’s related to that. Photographers, your camera, equipment, lenses, everything that you need to use. Make sure all of this is included in your insurance policies.
Another type of insurance, beyond equipment, that I want you to consider is disability. But for, as a cliff notes on this, I’m not going to go into deep on what it covers, but if your family depends on your income and you’re suddenly ill or disabled and unable to work now what? There’re insurance policies that are available to help, and these can either help bridge the gap. And I don’t want these to be in lieu of that savings side item do I just talked about, but I want it to be to supplement it as well.
And lastly, I hope that you guys have taken inventory of all your business property. Technically you should have this listed for your business insurance and assets for local government. However, having all of your serial numbers, the conditions of the products makes models, will help and assist in the recovery and replacement after disaster should strike.
Now, I’m going to leave you guys with one last thing. Those are five quick tips. These are not the be all and end all, but I want you to remember and consider if you want your clients or customers to be understanding for you in the time of disaster consider doing the same for them.
Again, this is not an all-inclusive list, this is just enough to get you started on the path of protecting your business and income, should disaster strike. I would love to hear more about the tips and stories and tricks that you may have uncovered in your life or seeing what other people have done. Jump over to our Facebook group Business Bites and we would love to continue the discussion with you there.
Rachel Brenke is a lawyer, author and business consultant. She is currently helping professionals all over the world initiate, strategize and implement strategic business and marketing plans through various mediums of consulting resources and legal direction.