September 13, 2011


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It’s 9/13 today. We don’t expect bad things to happen but that doesn’t stop bad luck.

What precautions have you taken to keep your business running should disaster strike?

The interruption might be caused by
  • fire or water damage
  • illness, disability or death (yours of a key employee's)
  • earthquake, hurricane or tornado
  • an extended power outage or gasoline shortage
  • an ice storm
  • shutdown of airspace
  • computer viruses
  • website shutdown
  • extended outage in your Internet or phone service
  • theft or burglary
  • a banana peel
So much could go wrong. The risks and probabilities vary. As a start, you can brainstorm and then prioritize. Aren't some vulnerabilities worth tackling now while you can? That's insurance.


You'll get some understanding from your clients if a calamity is widespread. Say, the northeast power outage on Aug 14, 2003 that affected 55 million (where where you?). Your clients could easily have been affected too.

Don’t expect much sympathy if: only your firm is affected, your clients are severely impacted and they have lawyers.

A Formal Plan

You might even want to develop a formal business resumption plan. The process has merits since you'll uncover vulnerabilities you previously overlooked or deferred addressing.

In the corporate world, I was part of the disaster recovery planning team for years. There were offsite facilities in alternate locations, copies of the plans on USB drives and updated contact lists. I even got the ultimate sign of seriousness — a golf shirt.

Your precautions may not need to be as elaborate or involve clothing giveaways. Simple actions like locking a drawer with client files might be a start. Maybe you need an automated online backup of your key files. Set and forget.

False Economy

Sometimes attempts at cost savings get in the way. If all your employees use the same mobile phone provider, what happens if there's a major disaster and you can’t reach your family or 911? That's what happened on 9/11. The main carriers, Bell and Rogers, were overloaded where I was. Yet my Fido was working fine. Now that Rogers owns Fido, there's more vulnerability.

Again, there are limits to what you can do but that's a poor excuse for inertia.


Once you've taken actions or developed plans, get a marketing advantage. Communicate a summary of your plan so that clients and prospects know the kind of precautions you’re taking. That transparency builds confidence. Maybe you moderate expectations by pointing out limitations as warranties do.

Side Benefits

Planning helps you sell your business for a premium. The potential buyers see your level of preparation. Planning also helps you take extended vacations in peace.


PS As you become great at planning, you can share the why and how with your clients and prospects. That's beneficial to them and great marketing.

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