Maybe a better question would be is do you have a disaster recovery plan? A while ago, I wrote an article called Could Your Business Survive if Something Happened to You? Anyone who is running a business needs to have a plan in place in case of the unthinkable. What if something happened to you or your business? For example, in the case of fire or a natural disaster that destroyed your physical location could someone step in and continue to run your business or could you replicate your business at another location? Would it basically be lights out and the end of your business as you know it today?
Processes, Policies & Procedures
In my previous article, I talked about documenting your policies and procedures. Even if you’re a solopreneur running a home-based business, this is a subject that needs to be addressed. Some of the very basic information that someone would need to access would be your logon information to the accounts that are critical to operating your business. For example:
- Domain Registrar: Where is your domain name registered? What username, password and email address do you use to access your account? If your domain name needed to be renewed while you were unavailable, where would the notification go? (I once went to a friend’s website and found that it had been parked at GoDaddy.com. She had not accessed her email and was very close to losing her domain name.)
- Website Host: What vendor do you use for hosting? How do you contact them if there’s a problem? What username, password and email address do you use to access your account? Do you have a pin number or would someone need to know the last four digits of your credit card to access your account on your behalf? How do you access your cPanel?
- CMS Software: If you’re using a CMS (Content Management System) like WordPress, Drupal or Joomla, what is the URL to access your administration panel and what’s your username and password? Is WordPress set to automatically update? (This has been the default since WordPress 3.7.) Do you have premium plugins like BackupBuddy and CommentLuv Premium that have user accounts associated with them? Do you use cloud storage such as Amazon S3 or Rackspace that have user accounts associated with them?
- FTP (File Transfer Protocol): Many people use the “File Manager” program in cPanel to transfer files to their website server. A popular alternative is to use a program like Filezilla to transfer data. If you do access your website using an FTP program, what is the logon information (host name, protocol, encryption, logon type, username and password) that someone would need to access your site?
- Social Networking Sites: If you actively participate on several social networking sites, which ones would you consider vital to your online presence (your primary sources of referral traffic)? If you assigned someone responsibility to maintain a presence for you, what username, password and email address would they use?
- Backups: How often do you back up? How and when do your back up your website? Is this an automated process? Where do you keep your backups? Are you backing up to flash drives, external drives and the cloud? (Maintaining off-site backups as well as local backups needs to be part of your plan. Should a disaster hit locally, having your data backed up in a safe place is critical.)
- Blog Posts: If you publish articles on a regular basis, do you have posts drafted? Do you have guest bloggers who could submit posts? When you hit that publish button on WordPress, what happens? Does a tweet automatically go out? Are your LinkedIn and Facebook accounts automatically updated? Do you have a Facebook page as well as a personal account? Are they automatically updated too? Would your blog wither and die if you were absent for a long period of time?
- Marketing Tools: Are you using a service such as AWeber or MailChimp to handle your newsletters and email campaigns? Are you using social media tools like Hootsuite, BufferApp, Sprout Social or Dlvr.it? How do you access your Google accounts (Analytics, gMail, Webmaster Tools, etc.)?
- Social Networking Groups: Do you manage a group on any of the social networking sites that you’re active on? Is there someone who could assume the responsibility for you if only temporarily?
- Clients/Customers: Do you have clients/customers who you are regularly in contact with? Should they be notified that you’ll be away? Where is their contact information? Do you currently have any projects that need to be addressed within a specific time frame? What immediate steps should be taken to safeguard your businesss?
Over to You:
I hope this gets you motivated to take an inventory of your business. Do you feel that your business is in good shape if something were to happen to you or your surroundings? If you suddenly found yourself out of commission, could someone easily step in and cover for you? Would you have a business to come back to?
This list certainly isn’t all inclusive. I could go on to include password manager software and services and we could have a lively discussion about disaster recovery plans. What would you add? What advice could you offer to someone who’s idea of documentation is a pile of post-it notes in a shoebox?