As a small business professional you know only too well how difficult it can be to keep your company thriving, much less prepared for unexpected bumps down the road. But there are several “gotchas” that are critical to address now so if the future does contain a trapdoor, your company won’t fall through.
Here are my top five “musts” to keep your business up and running:
- Brace for disaster. Disaster preparedness might already be uppermost in your mind if your company is located in an area that is prone to earthquakes or extreme weather such as hurricanes. However, according to the nonprofit Ad Council, only four in 10 small U.S. businesses actually have a “day after” plan in place. Ideally, you should cover yourself for any event that could cause you to lose valuable data or productivity. These could range from a failure of your backup software to a disaster that prevents your employees from coming into the office to work.
- Don’t skimp on your ISP. If losing your Internet connection for more than a few minutes would throw a serious wrench in your operations, avoid the temptation of signing on with a cheap provider to save money. Email that goes down once a week or an ISP that is not available when you need it can frustrate customers and employees alike and cost your small business revenue and respect.
- Use a knowledgeable IT person. Your business might be too small to require a full-time in-house network manager, but that doesn’t mean you should not hire experts when you need them. A Cisco Certified Partner is a technology professional who knows how to set up, maintain, and grow your network tailored to your company’s specific needs.
- Keep hardware up-to-date. It’s easy to let hardware upgrades slide because it can seem like a huge outlay compared with software purchases. However, end-user equipment and network devices alike—from PCs and printers to switches and phone systems-- that are more than a few years old can waste valuable employee time if a faster or more capable product is available.
- Consider insuring key employees. It’s not uncommon for one person in a small business to become the resident expert in an important area such as database programming. Ask yourself what would happen to your company if that person quit or became too ill to work for a long period of time. If the business consequences are too hideous to contemplate, it’s time to make sure you have a backup. If it’s not possible to train a second employee or document the job’s duties for an emergency replacement, it might be wise to invest in disability or life insurance for employees you literally cannot afford to do without.
Nothing in life is guaranteed, and that goes double for small business owners. However, you can head off trouble in many instances if you follow these simple rules for staying prepared.
What plans do you have in place for ensuring that your business stays up and running?