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What’s Your Business Plan for the Zombie Apocalypse?

What's Your Business Plan for the Zombie ApocalypseYou’ve barricaded the doors and windows, divvied up the emergency rations, and the secretary has even found a chainsaw in the supply cupboard. The undead are outside, beating at the doors and moaning incoherently as they try to find a way inside to feast on your glorious, entrepreneurial brain.

Will your business survive the zombie apocalypse? Not without a plan.

A disaster recovery plan is vital for any business

While the above scenario is pretty unlikely to happen, what if it did? Would you be prepared? What would happen if an earthquake destroyed your office? Or an arsonist set fire to your servers?

When Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast in 2005, it not only claimed 1,800 lives, but also caused more than $600 million in damage to infrastructure and communications across the region. Without the ability to reach clients and continue business, many companies were forced to close their doors.

And that is very sad and very, very real.

Imagine you were a business in that area. Even if you and your family escaped with your lives, even if your home and office weren’t turned to rubble, without access to your files, could you keep running your business?

So take some time today to prepare a zombie apocalypse plan for your business. Here’s what you need to think about:

  • How will you check that all your employees/clients are OK?
  • How will you communicate with employees and clients?
  • How will you keep running the business?
  • How can you rescue your data?
  • How will you continue to bill clients for work completed?
  • How will you work with clients if their homes and businesses are destroyed?

Communication

In any disaster situation, being able to communicate with employees, key agencies and clients is vital. The first thing you’ll want to do following a disaster (after securing your own safety and that of your family and possessions) is to contact your staff (if you have any) and check that they’re OK. You need to gain an accurate picture of the situation and who you have available to help.

As the initial shock of the disaster wears off and you’ve conducted damage assessment on your assets, you can start looking ahead at keeping your business ticking over. This means contacting all your clients and informing them of the situation. You need to assure clients that you plan to continue working with them, but that things may be a bit slow while you figure out how to work around a horde of brain-eating monsters.

If your clients are being attacked by the very same horde, they may not be in need of your services any longer. For example, shop owners who’ve had their premises destroyed will have no need to continue their store PPC campaign. Calling each client to find out the status on the project will give you an accurate picture of your workload moving forward.

But how will you contact your clients and staff? Well, this will depend on the nature of the attack, where you are when the attack occurred and exactly what communication channels the zombies have wiped out.

The first and most important item in any zombie apocalypse plan is to keep an up-to-date database of contact details. And this database needs to be accessible from outside your office. It’s no good having all your files stored in your office if your office is buried under 5 feet of rubble.

This is one of the reasons why cloud-based software is such an excellent choice for business owners. If you store your contacts on the cloud, you’re able to access them anywhere, from any device, at any time (provided you can getInternet service). Since data and Wifi are some of the first services to be restored following disaster, you should quickly be able to get a full picture of the situation.

Workspace and Data Recovery

If your offices are in the zombie infestation zone, you might not be able to return there for some time. After a tragic earthquake struck the CBD in Christchurch, New Zealand in 2010, many businesses weren’t allowed back into the “red zone” for several months afterward – most too late to save their businesses.

In most situations, workers will be able to telecommute from their homes or another remote office if adequate equipment and tools are available to them.

You could also pool resources with other business owners in the area to set up temporary backup offices, perhaps in a warehouse or someone’s garage. Companies can work together to establish and share communications and equipment. In a disaster, it’s good if everyone can work together.

When setting up an office from a remote location, cloud-based software can offer huge advantages. If accounting, workflow, invoices, and file storage are run – or at least backed up – via the cloud, a company can quickly and easily get back to work again from an alternative location. Cloud software can also facilitate collaboration. For example, your clients can check off drafts of a project online from the safety of their bunker.

In fact, with cloud-based job management, invoicing and collaboration being a standard part of your operations, it’s possible your clients won’t even notice anything is amiss!

Handing over the Reins

Perhaps you were unfortunate to be eaten alive, but your 2nd in command is a plucky hero type who will undoubtedly go on to survive and repopulate the species. How will he/she be able to manage the business after your gruesome and untimely death?

This is partly a training issue and partly an issue of succession planning. It’s especially important for small businesses where you may be only person in the business – or the only person who knows what’s going on.

A disaster isn’t just a flood or a tsunami – it could be a medical emergency that places you out of commission for several months. After a disaster is too late to train up someone in managing your business; now is the time to start training an employee, contract or a friend or spouse to keep the business afloat without you. How will your business keep operating?

Make Sure You’ve Covered

Of course, there probably isn’t an insurance policy on earth that covers you for the zombie apocalypse (actually, wait, there is), but you should definitely make sure your business is adequately insured against disaster. Fire, theft, earthquakes, tsunamis and hordes of bloodthirsty undead can and do happen, and always to people who think it will never happen to them. If you can’t afford to lose your business, then you can’t afford not to insure it.

I suggest getting some advice from a mortgage broker or independent financial advisor, as they’ll help you figure out what you need and find the best price for your budget.

There are many experts who believe the zombie apocalypse is actually a real threat. So while you’re stocking up on dry goods and practicing your moves with a cricket bat, it’s a good idea to think about what your business will do when confronted with a wall of shambling, undead flesh-eaters.

Will your business survive?

About Steff Green

Steff Green is a content creator at WorkflowMax, who offer powerful, cloud-based workflow management software allowing designers, creatives, entrepreneurs and other creative businesses to manage invoicing, collaboration, job tracking, and much more. Sign up for a FREE 14 day trial or check out the WorkflowMax blog for more articles on collaboration, productivity and client relations.

21 comments

  1. Great post and it is relevant even to me in Jamaica. As a part of the Caribbean we experience hurricanes and storms regularly and a number of things are destroyed in the flood waters. So this post is a gentle remainder to take adequate precautionary measures. So these are important plans to make to be proactive. Thanks

    1. Thanks for reading Marlene. I come from an area extremely prone to earthquakes, so I definitely know what it’s like living in a zone like that. It’s important to be prepared 🙂

  2. We were having a storm and thought a tornado was coming. Hubby had everyone huddled in an inner bathroom with couch cushions over their heads. Then it hit me, my office! I ran out, grabbed my coffee mug full of flash drives and ran back to safety. He thought I was nuts. I said, “Hey, it’s how I make a living.”

    1. You’re exactly right Carol – and you’re not alone in carrying your whole business around on pen drives. I used to be the same. Now, I’m all about the cloud – I can get my data whenever and wherever I need it.

  3. Steff, thank you for this insightful and SCARY post. It gives me a lot of thought to implement deeper back up and protection systems. I already store all of my work in the cloud with back ups. Earlier this week Aweber was struck with a DDoS attack. Those of us who are customers had our list management come to a halt for a great part of the week. Let’ say that this was a mini-disaster for some of us. Now that access has been restored, I am going to download my subscriber list and save as a back up in a safe place. Will schedule to do this on a regular basis. Step 1 of my new business continuity plan aka zombie apocalypse plan. Thank you for the wake up call for preparedness!

  4. This is perfection. First off, I’m wildly amused that a marketing blog has an article involving the zombie apocalypse. 😀

    But it also had great advice…like data recovery. That’s a lesson I (unfortunately) learned the hard way. About 2-3 weeks ago, my hard drive started clicking, and before I could do anything about it, it had completely shut down. Everything, poof, gone. Now I’ve got backups for my backups, lol.

    1. Hi – this is so relevant for us as we live and work near the Thames in Surrey (UK) and were badly affected by the recent floods. We have entrusted our data recovery to our highly regarded IT specialists, but when it came to our clients, we took care to give them a heads up in good time and to use the down time productively in creating new stuff. Whilst we were underwater, we created a new 360 feedback tool! So perhaps we could be the first Learning & Development consultancy to actively work with the zombies and share feedback with them on how their behaviour is impacting on others? They could use the feedback to create an action plan to move away from brains and towards salads – it would probably improve their mood as well as zombie/employee relations…

      1. Good job ceruleanblu – I love the way your company turned a scary situation into something positive.

        Good luck with that Zombie Apocalypse plan there. I’m pretty sure I know how the film chronicling your attempts to share feedback with them would end …

  5. I have tried to use humor in all my writings and more for over 40 years that I have written for and to a ‘bazillion people’. The idea that Norman Cousins healed himself with humor made a significant impact on me way back when!

  6. Steff, thanks for the post, I like it (and especially the humor part).

    No jokes now.
    What are your most threatening feelings about an apocalypse reason (anyone can answer please):

    1. Zombie attack.
    2. Nuclear missile attack.
    3. UFO attack
    4. New Ice Age
    5. Total electricity blackout
    6. Communism
    7. Russians/North Korean troops landing
    8. Asteroid crash
    9. Your version (expand please).

    (Disclosure: perhaps this list will help you to write more posts like this. And if you include even more humor and add relative cool images, then I guess it has all chances to be a real success)

    1. Great list, Michael! I like the idea of writing about how your business could survive communism 🙂

      Sometimes it depends on what your business actually does. If you happen to run a thermal clothing company, surviving the next Ice Age is going to be a breeze!

  7. Steff, thank you for the post.

    I agree with the importance of strong data recovery procedures and especially the need for a strong communication plan. As you mentioned communicating quickly and efficiently will only be as good as the actual disaster recovery plan. Working in the non profit sector, I often find myself contemplating the competing tension of the work at hand, the “stuff” that just has to get done today and this week VS how much time to spend on the “what if” scenarios. I’d love to hear a little dialogue on what an appropriate amount of time and effort is “usually” required, depending on business size, for appropriate risk management and disaster planning. Afterall, sometimes we can get so caught up in the what may go wrong, we forget to spend time on what is happening right in front of us. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big proponent of ensuring that a plan is in place, but I know in my own life, sometimes I spend too much time in an area that is not bringing enough ROI. Any thoughts on how much time a person should spend, at least in some initial assessment and thinking around risk management? Because, I agree…it is a vital conversation. Would love to hear your thoughts.

  8. In November the town next to me was devastated by a tornado, and I was taking a class from an educational technology instructor whose house blew away, along with the three different computers and hard-drives on which she had backed up all our assignments. Yet I had not even begun to think about how to plan ahead for my eventual business if something like another tornado scattered my data across several counties. Thanks for thinking this out for me.

    1. Thanks Carol. Unfortunately, it often takes a disaster like an earthquake or tornado or a devastating fire to make us realise how vulnerable our businesses are. That’s why it’s important to be prepared with a plan.

  9. I’m involved in the Business Continuity Plan for the organization I work with in my full-time job, but at this early stage it hadn’t even occurred to me to have a plan in place for my own business!

    This is a great post that really covers the basics of preparing a business for an emergency. We cover the exact same categories of needs in the giant corporation I work for – making sure people are okay, how to ensure critical technology resources will be available, communicating inside and outside the business, where people will work.

    Thanks for the reminder that this is critical in our entreprenuerial endeavors as well!

  10. Great post Steff!

    My website is beginning to receive more and more traffic, and it’s time for me to hire someone to help me maintain my WordPress website. I’ve started backing up WP more often, and I need to find a good backup service for my laptop.

    1. Be careful what you are backing up and how. If your PHP files are infected then your backups are probably also infected. I advise that you build and deploy your website releases from a version control repository so that should you loose your site you simply have to redeploy. The database is a slightly different thing but again can be handled. — Shaun O’Hagan (MD KPM)

        1. I recommend if at all possible that you have a clone of your online business running in your office. It may be running on Windows via XAMP or WAMP or if you have a Linux machine all the better. The problem with backups is a) people forget b) they are broken in the same way as the website that just broke c) they don’t get tested until you need them and that is very risky. If you are doing e-commerce it is essential to have a solid strategy in place, blogging not so much but it is your business so do it right ! I had a customer’s site get hacked due to an error in the access control. Could have destroyed my reputation however in 30 minutes I had a replacement site clean and up and running before anyone even noticed. Even pros get it wrong sometimes

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