Business Matters: Getting Serious About a Disaster Plan for My Business

Kevin Cuddihy (Your Friendly Neighborhood Blogger) made me do this. Last month, he asked STC bloggers to offer one resolution for 2014, so I went public with this:

“In gratitude for escaping any damage in the 1,000-year rainfall, 100-year flood that ravaged my home town not five miles away, I resolve to get serious about a disaster plan for both my business and my home (which houses my business). I hope to blog next year about my progress on completing my plan!”

This blog post will help me lay out this big project so that I can project manage it productively. Then I will blog each month about a specific chunk of my plan. At this point, it looks as though I’ll move through these topics:

  1. Defining my goals for disaster planning for my business
  2. Scoping out potential business disaster scenarios and evaluating risk
  3. Setting specific actions to take for each disaster scenario weighted by risk
  4. Finding resources that could help me

I will spell out my goals in this blog post. I have long wanted to be proactive, not just reactive, in the face of disasters. “It can’t happen to me” has been my mantra for years. I am not beating myself up, mind you—I know that I’m in good company when I deny potential danger.

But look at the facts of my life: A major wildfire only a few miles from my home! A massive flood only five miles from my home! A two-day gas outage in subzero weather! Frequent power outages! I suspect that some of these events can be pinned on climate change, and if I’m right, things will not get better in the near future.

And there are other potential disasters lurking out there too: earthquakes (nearby fracking may cause earthquakes); thefts; fires or explosions in other units in my condominium building that could impact my unit; computer security breaches (think Target, NSA, or Google); or a lawsuit.

(By now, I’m headed to bed to pull the covers over my head!)

But of course I cannot ignore reality, so here are my goals when faced with an inevitable disaster:

  • I want to survive (and get the dog out safely, too).
  • I want to mitigate damages by careful planning.
  • I want to have the least amount of downtime in my business.

Writing out my goals will help me manage the scope of this project. And because I am an independent freelancer and need more ideas than my own, I’ll be asking for your opinions and experiences every month, and I’ll include your ideas in my disaster planning blog posts. You’ll see your name in print (er, pixels) if you wish!

For now, please help me think about potential disaster scenarios for the self-employed freelance independent. What could possibly go wrong in your business, or what has gone wrong and how did you survive it? Post your ideas on my Constant Contact polling tool before 9 February, or send me your scenarios at

Thanks, Kevin, for prompting me toward a disaster plan that I definitely need!