A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the devastating effects of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, which took turns ravaging the Eastern seaboard with widespread power outages and granting many homeowners instant easements to newly minted waterfront property.

Following the storms' aftermath, a number of accounting firms had deployed formal business continuity and disaster recovery plans, which allowed many of them to be back online and open for business in as quickly as 24 hours.

While I won't rehash the various strategies the firms used, nor wag an editorial finger at those who had little or no emergency backup, I recently came across a somewhat disturbing poll along the same lines.

Online backup systems provider Carbonite polled some 130 business owners, all of whom said the number one challenge to maintaining their business in the event of a natural disaster was data loss.

Yet, more than half - 57 percent to be exact - revealed they did not have a disaster preparedness plan to protect critical business and client data.

And despite the past year, which has seen hurricanes, earthquakes and deadly tornadoes that nearly wiped a Missouri town off the map, 59 percent of those said they had not created a plan because, incredibly, "they haven't thought about it."

In other responses worthy of a mention in the Ripley's museum, just 13 percent of the small business owners felt that a natural disaster could happen to them - I'm sure there are a few now-former business owners in the Northeast who could convince them otherwise - and just over half felt that a data loss was unlikely to impact their business.

How about the fact that nearly 70 percent of those polled believed they would lose money if their businesses were offline for 24 hours?

OK, let's wake up and face North here.

If you don't have a plan in place - or even if you do - when you're impacted by a disaster over a certain magnitude - it's better than even money you'll be down longer than that.

So unless you enjoy fly-fishing in the hallway or rappelling down a cliff where a storage closet used to be, it's probably sage advice to more than just think about developing a business continuity strategy.

Or, you can always look into purchasing a hovercraft.



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