A disaster could prevent your business from operating, resulting in catastrophic losses and potentially the demise of your business. But with a proper disaster recovery strategy, you might have the blueprint to preserve continuity and eventually recover in full.
What exactly goes into a disaster recovery strategy and does every business need one?
Disaster Recovery Basics
Simply put, a disaster recovery plan or disaster recovery strategy is a plan of action that you can reliably take in the event of a disaster. This disaster could be a naturally occurring event (like an earthquake), a planned cyberattack, or even an employee mistake that leaves your business disrupted. Any catastrophic event that prevents your business from operating normally or threatens your systems or data can be considered a disaster in this context.
Good disaster recovery strategies provide a set of instructions for what to do in such an event, with goals of preserving business operations, minimizing losses, and restoring the business back to full working order as quickly as possible. This is important because improvisation is usually inefficient; if your leaders and employees don’t know what to do in the wake of a disaster, you’re going to be severely delayed in responding to it, which is going to lead to much bigger losses.
You can create a disaster recovery plan entirely on your own, use a managed IT services provider to coordinate a plan collaboratively, or hire consultants to devise a plan for you – though you’ll still play a role in guiding and shaping that disaster recovery strategy.
There’s no right or wrong way to create a disaster recovery plan, so you have significant flexibility in your approach. What counts is having something thorough and formally documented, so you always know what to do.
Why All Businesses Need a Disaster Recovery Plan
All businesses should have some kind of disaster recovery plan in place, those smaller businesses can get away with lighter, more minimalistic ones.
These are some of the most important reasons why:
- Disasters are expensive. Disasters are extremely expensive, and in multiple different dimensions. Business disruption costs a collective $700 billion each year; for each hour your business is unable to operate, you’ll hemorrhage money without generating any revenue. Even if you can get online just 30 minutes faster with a disaster recovery plan, the planning process can pay for itself immediately. Good disaster recovery planning can also help you minimize losses, cutting off data access before cyber criminals get access to everything. And if your business responds quickly and efficiently, you may be able to preserve trust among your stakeholders, customers, and partners.
- Threats come in many shapes and sizes. If you think your business is immune to disasters, think again. Threats come in many shapes and sizes, and some of them are totally unpredictable. Your business is likely prone to at least one or two types of natural disasters, and even if it isn’t, there’s a variety of digital threats that could potentially destroy your business from the inside. An event as simple as an employee choosing an easy to guess password could threaten your entire operation.
- Anyone can be a target. On top of that, anyone can be a threat. Small business owners and solo entrepreneurs sometimes fall to a false sense of security, believing they could never be a target because of how small and unnoticeable they are. In actuality, small businesses are some of the most common targets, since they often neglect cybersecurity.
- Human error is a major threat. While natural disasters and planned, malicious attacks are certainly threatening, the bigger threat is usually human error. Any of your employees could fall for a phishing scheme or accidentally install malware without realizing it – and the consequences could be devastating without a disaster recovery plan.
- Reputational damage can be devastating. Disaster planning is also about preserving your reputation as much as possible. Suffering a data breach is never good for your reputation, but you can recover much more smoothly if you respond to one swiftly and confidently.
- Disaster recovery planning is relatively cheap. Finally, keep in mind that disaster recovery planning is relatively cheap, especially when compared to your potential losses in the wake of a disaster. There’s no reason not to make this simple, proactive investment.
Starting Your Disaster Recovery Plan
if you don’t already have a disaster recovery plan in place for your business, now is the right time to start one. You can’t afford to wait until a disaster strikes. If you’re not sure where to start, or if you’re having trouble identifying your key threats, consider working with an external consultant who can help you with the planning process from the ground floor.