As we enter a new year, many business owners do their best to step back and look at their business from the high level perspective that gets lost amongst the weeds of day to day operations throughout the year. One of the areas of technology that many businesses will consider is disaster recovery and preparedness. A quick brainstorming session can quickly identify critical business systems, databases, and processes that a business cannot live without, but what should be done to prepare for a disaster that affects these technology components? That’s where disaster recovery and business continuity planning come in.

What defines a “disaster” in the world of tech is a very subjective and case-by-case definition. In almost every case, a severe loss of data (either through physical loss, corruption, or theft) can cripple a business. Studies have found that 25% of businesses that experience a disaster of this nature never open their doors again. The loss of this information may put operations on hold, result in incurred fines or fees, or even expose critical business information and files to unwanted individuals that may use it in ways that a business can’t recover from.

Disaster preparedness, however, isn’t just about backups. Simply copying your files to a thumb drive every week or even automatically backing them up to the cloud in near-real time. While these steps are must do’s for any business, this isn’t all there is to it. In fact, the ease of backups to the cloud and the “outsourcing” of this responsibility to services such as Office 365 Email and Google Drive may have led many business leaders to become overly confident in their state of preparedness.

What do you do when email goes down? Sure, you can pick up the phone… but what if email goes down for a week and your customers don’t know about it? Or what would happen if your Google Drive becomes corrupted, accidently wiped out by an employee, or deleted because you forgot to pay a bill. Do you know HOW you’d get this data back?

Over the next couple months, I’d like to dive deeper into what disaster preparedness and business continuity mean to small businesses like yours and mine. We’ll look at specifics that we can do here-and-now to be as prepared as WE choose to be for events that might affect our business. The key to starting this journey, of course, is to recognize it as important, identify your risks and objectives, and then take small, measured steps leading you to that end goal.

Written by Chet Cromer for publication in the Business Leader