Have you considered how your business would cope in the event of unforeseen circumstances? Many business put very little thought into disaster planning believing that it won’t happen to them.

Major weather occurrences or accidents could leave your business completely unable to trade. Imagine running your business with no power, phone service, internet, access to bank accounts, unusable vehicles, or staff simply not able to reach their place of work. It would be a nightmare for most small firms. However, with a little preparation the impact of a ‘disaster’ or emergency could be significantly reduced. These things can happen quickly so you need a carefully put together plan that can be put in place at a moment’s notice.

Careful planning can help you minimize losses and emerge relatively unscathed from a disaster.

First things first – make a complete list of all essentials to keep your business. Map out a worst case scenario based on your entire office going up in smoke or being completely flooded. What would you need to keep running your business? How would you access historical files or other data? If you are computer based what happens next if your server is underwater or just so damaged that there is no retrieving it.

Once you know how bad it can get, now think about who will be in charge of fixing it. If you are a one-man band of course all of the responsibility is going to fall on you. But if you have employees or contractors then think about who would be best to lead through the first few difficult days. Designate responsibility for actions to those best suited to the task – just like you would for anything else.

Now, something bad has happened to your office or workplace and you have leaders. How will you tell them? There are email blast, text blast and voice broadcasting programmes that will allow you to simultaneously contact all staff to alert them of the issue. And you will need to tell your customers as well – probably best to have two different messages as your customers will need reassurance while your staff will need to be kicked into action.

One of the best options open to all companies now is the cloud. There is little reliance on physical servers, everything is accessible by anyone from anywhere with the right permissions. Using it day to day will also make a big difference to the flexibility of your working style. There are many cloud based file sharing services, back-up solutions and online documents (Office 365, Google Docs etc.). Dependent on your business you may still need to retain paper copies but a cloud-based back-up will be invaluable if the worst happens.

Lots of office blocks offer back up sites. You can enter into a contract so that should you need it, an office will always be available for you to move in to at any time. It may not be the best option for you – a room at home may be enough – but look into serviced offices in the area if you need a smooth transition for a lot of staff at short notice.

And finally, once you have put a plan in place – written down and saved to the cloud – try it out. Work at home for the day and see how easily you can just pick up from yesterday. Run a drill with your key staff members. Practice as much as you need to until all the kinks are ironed out and you know that your business can survive anything.