Business Contingency Planning: What Happens When The Power’s Out!

Our level of success is not necessarily measured in dollars and cents but in how we can overcome challenges without missing a beat. What happens to you if you got into work only to discover that nothing worked? Would it be "business as usual"?

A few weeks ago I powered up my computer to start my day. I noticed a message indicating my Internet connection was not functioning. I called the helpdesk and rather than ringing, the phone played a message that said, “We are experiencing problems with our high speed service and are working to repair it as quickly as possible. Thank you for your patience.”

I breathed a sigh of relief that I didn’t have any pressing emails, scheduled webinars, or other critical business functions to do online. It was during this time that I wrote some notes to myself for this article.

Later, I spoke to a friend about it and we both agreed that we were dead in the water without the Internet. Then he told me about a time before he started his own business when he was a manager of a small store. One afternoon, the power went out all down the street when a transformer blew. His phones didn’t work. His computers didn’t work. He told me what he did to deal with it and I went home and added more notes for this article.

What would you do if your business’s Internet connection was out? Do you have an Internet cafe where you could go and finish your work? Do you have a trusted friend (with a different service provider, of course) who would let you hang out at their house all day so you could do your business?

What would you do if your business’s power was out? Is there filing you could catch up on? Is there paper-based work you could do? I have a small folder of papers with notes on them as part of an ongoing brainstorming list I have.

But maybe for you, it’s not a matter of finding work to do. Maybe it’s in dealing with the customers you have:

If the power goes out, are you able to get phone calls or perform business transactions? When the power went out at my friend’s store he had a plan in place already: There were calculators and pens to deal with transactions. There was a special box he pulled out where completed paper-based transactions would be placed for input when the power went back on. And because so much of his business came in over the phone, he called his head office (via cell phone) and had them forward all his store’s calls to his cell phone.

This led me to a third, common “oh no” moment in business: the loss of computer memory. I asked a freelance writer about this and this is what he told me: “I always forget to back things up. I’m terrible at it. But one solution I’ve found is in saving all of my emails. By sending files back and forth to clients, and saving every email, my entire computer could disintegrate and I would be caught up in just a few hours. I keep a paper-based list of all my projects, and as long as I have access to the Internet, I can download a recent version of a project and start from there.”

As part of your business’s contingency planning, do you have processes in place to deal with these problems? What would happen to your business if your Internet was disconnected? What would happen to your business if your power went out? What would happen to your business if your computer’s memory vanished?

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