With the string of recent tornadoes that passed through Oklahoma it’s a good time to review (or create) your disaster preparedness plan for your business. Businesses having a plan for an emergency can be back in operation in as little as 5 days according to the Small Business Administration (SBA) statistics. Knowing where your organization’s information is stored and in what type of format is essential.
Businesses susceptible to flash floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, and avalanches should be extra vigilant though any business, in any location, can incur a fire or be part of a mass power outage. Being prepared and testing the plan with a few practice drills beforehand is key.
Where to Store It?
Critical documents should be stored in a fire-proof, crush-proof safe or safe box. Placing the documents in labeled water-proof Ziplock bags gives an added layer of protection against water damage.
Critical documents should additionally be scanned and stored on a CD or USB drive off location of your primary office, on the Internet in cloud storage, or on a password protected section of your website.
What to Store?
Some of the basics include:
- IRS forms and business organizational papers including your sales tax certificate, EIN number, tax exemption certificate, financial statements, etc.
- Applicable bylaws, mission statement, business/marketing plan, operations manual
- Bank name, account number, contact information, blank checks, and corporate seal
- Computer passwords and usernames
- Client database and applicable records
- Vendor account listing
- Employee records and personnel information, payroll information
- Insurance records, policy numbers, and contact information
- Office lease/Building deed
- Inventory listing for your office hardware, software, and any products you may sell
- Sign up for paperless statements from your bank to cut down on paperwork and have a reliable offsite storage spot for your bank statements.
- When making backup copies of data, think about the software you’ll need. For example, if you backup your financial data from QuickBooks, but don’t have QuickBooks installed on your emergency computer, you may find it difficult to retrieve the data when you need it!
As part of your preparedness plan review the stored documents at regular intervals – adding to or omitting obsolete pieces – and access your data in practice to be sure that you can quickly get to the data should an emergency happen. Review your computer and email backups so you can be assured that the critical files you need are being fully copied. There’s nothing worse than thinking the backups copy everything only to discover something was overlooked.
Deb Howard Greenleaf, EA, CEO and Principal, of Greenleaf Accounting Services provides virtual accounting and bookkeeping services and specializes in financial management to consultants, coaches, solo professionals, and other small business owners across the US. Deb is an Enrolled Agent (EA)—an IRS-licensed tax professional—and specializes in small businesses and entrepreneurs filing Schedule C or as an LLC. As an Advanced Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, Deb spends her day in QuickBooks Online and specializes in providing QBO support.