Every so often, a major natural disaster strikes somewhere in the world and serves to remind us of how vulnerable we are. Earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and forest fires can leave catastrophic damage in their wake. While governments and emergency services have their role in preparing, warning, communicating, evacuating, and restoring the areas that are afflicted by a disaster, startup and all business owners must put in place appropriate measures that ensure their enterprise survives a disaster even when government assistance is absent. Though one hopes to never face a crisis, a disaster recovery plan, or DRP, is critical in these situations.
Disasters that disrupt a business aren’t just natural. Some, like cyber attacks and terrorism, are man-made but can completely shut down enterprise operations. Developing a robust disaster plan that can adequately respond to these disasters is paramount. Here’s what can happen if you don’t have one.
A Disaster Can Ruin Your Business Reputation
Your customers are rational people. In the aftermath of a major disaster, they may understand a temporary interruption to your business process. However, few customers will be willing to accept that your business will be offline for days or weeks after such an incident. It demonstrates a lack of foresight. Even where your product is better than what your competitors have to offer, the absence of effective disaster recovery solutions would inflict substantial damage to your reputation.
Bad news travels quickly, and your customers can damage your brand irreparably by word-of-mouth. Remember that many of your customers may be sensitive and on edge since they too may have been directly affected by the disaster. Their depth of frustration with the unavailability of your product in their hour of need is something they’ll be talking about months and years after the disaster.
A Disaster Can Scare Off Future Prospective Clients
Every startup business aspires for growth in the number of customers it serves and, therefore, the revenue it earns. The promise of such future growth can, however, be cut short if the way your business responds to a disaster falls short of customer expectations. As the frustration among your clients grows, many will pour out their frustrations on social media, internet forums, review sites, and in the news media.
This can create a scenario where a business would wish it could invoke a right-to-be-forgotten clause that would delete every negative story about it online. Unfortunately, the Internet never forgets. Without a disaster recovery plan, comments from unhappy customers won’t disappear even after your business finally resumes operations. So when a prospective customer performs a Google search of your business, these negative comments and stories may be among the first results.
Your Existing Customers Will Leave
Customers are usually reluctant to abandon a product or service that has served them well in the past. Humans love the comfort that comes with predictability. Nevertheless, bungling your management of a disaster is the one thing that can push your customers to abandon ship.
The period during and immediately after a disaster is characterized by widespread distress and intense emotion. Some of your customers may even have lost their loved ones. It’s a time they least need disappointment from other quarters. If they can no longer get the products and services they pay for immediately, they’ll be ready to move their business elsewhere.
This not only means loss of future revenue but also implies that all the marketing costs you incurred to win over the customer have gone down the drain.
Your Employees Will Leave
Success is attractive. Everyone wants to be on the winning team. If your business becomes a laughing stock because you did not adequately prepare for a disaster, employees will be embarrassed to announce that they work there.
In addition, a lack of a disaster recovery plan would see your staff groping in the dark and under great pressure to satisfy angry clients. One can only endure this kind of stressful environment for so long before overwhelming feelings of helplessness, frustration, anger, and resentment set in.
The next natural step following such despondency is a steady stream of your best employees leaving your organization. If the disaster crippled your business operations, departing employees will only make it harder for you to get back on your feet over the long term.
If you don’t have a tried and tested disaster recovery plan, start to work on creating one today. Few things will draw in customers and investors more than seeing your startup running almost as usual when your competitors are battling to reopen their doors days or weeks after a disaster.