We have a routine at home when tablets start running slowly or the TV glitches out. Someone inevitably
hollers out, “Can someone restart the Internet?” This is the sign for someone (normally dad) to crawl
under the stairs, fumble around with all the electronics, and reset the surge protector that powers our
modem, router, and WiFi system. Within a couple minutes, all systems are go and we’re back on the grid.
You’d think the same problem would not be as prevalent in a small business setting as it is in a home, but
it often is. I’ve had to switch from writing my column in Google Docs to Microsoft Word because our
Internet at the office won’t stay up today. We’ve restarted all our systems, opened a ticket with our
provider, and now our team sits here in virtual darkness waiting for the green lights to start blinking
When the electricity is out, everyone in the area is affected, and there’s often a single company
responsible for correcting the outage. When the Internet goes down, it’s hard to say who (or what) is at
fault, and since there are multiple providers in most communities, outages often go unnoticed because it’s
seemingly only affecting “my” service.
Internet outages can be more costly than power outages as well. What looks like a momentary hiccup
turns into recurring glitches, slow speeds, lost productivity, and lost sales. If you’re a business like mine
that depends on the Internet for resources and business, it can wreak havoc to productivity to the point
that you turn away customers or send your team home for the day.
What can be done to minimize the impact of Internet outages in the world of small business? Below are
three simple steps you can take to prepare you and your business for the inevitable.
If the Internet’s up and down, what will you do? Who will you call? It doesn’t take much time to build a
quick reference sheet to have ready when you need it may help you quickly reach out and get help. You
may also find that some of your neighbors use the same service, and a quick call to their office to confirm
“it’s not just me” helps put the problem in perspective.
Have a Backup Plan
The best way to plan for an outage is to do just that… plan. This can be as comprehensive as an Internet
service package that has redundancy built in by the provider to a cellular hotspot everyone can use when
the Internet’s down. It doesn’t take lots of time or extra money, but the plan will be it when the network’s
Outages like these will happen. Backup plans won’t always work, or they’ll be inconvenient. When the
Internet’s down and productivity at the office is shot, perhaps it’s time to send the team to the local coffee
shop or their own homes to work for the day. Or maybe, just maybe, we can afford to take a couple hours
away from our screens to focus on other priorities that often get lost in the day-to-day grind.
Written by Chet Cromer for publication in the Business Leader