Delegate, Focus, and GROW Your Business

Boost Your Business Toolkit to Avoid Disaster

Oiled Bird - Black Sea Oil Spill 11/12/07

Like me, I’m sure you’ve been listening and reading to the news coverage about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Now you’re probably wondering what that could possibly have to do with a virtual assistant , but there are some things we can all learn from this disaster.

The other day Tony Hayward, CEO of BP stated the reason for the delay in the clean-up is that “We did not have the tools you would want in your toolkit.” This got me thinking about the tools that all businesses should have in their toolbox to avoid a disaster before it happens to you. A disaster could be environmental, a loss of data, missing important project targets or unsatisfied customer complaints. Do you have systems in place to deal with these potential business disasters?

Here are some important tools and processes you should implement now to avoid having an empty toolkit like BP;

1.) Prepare a disaster plan – All business should have a formal disaster plan in place in case of an environmental disaster like a fire, flood, snowstorm and/or utility outage. Studies show that an estimated 43% of businesses without a plan don’t reopen after a major disaster. There are numerous free online resources to help you analyze your business operations and prepare a business disaster plan. Check out the Small Business Association or the Federal Emergency Management Association for help. A virtual assistant is a great addition to your plan. A VA can help you develop your plan and provide services to implement the plan to ensure you are prepared well in advance of any calamity.

2.) Safeguard your data – Even if you never face an environmental disaster, you could face data loss. Loss of data means loss of revenue, and productivity. Consider these stats;

  • Every 15 seconds, a hard drive crashes
  • 31% of PC users have lost all of their PC files to events beyond their control.
  • 1 in 5 computers suffers a fatal hard drive crash

Scary stuff! There are many products to keep your data safe. Recovery Review has a great list of software and other recovery suggestions. A virtual assistant can help you by providing research on the best products, backing up your files to online sites, and serving as your personal back-up in the case of an emergency.

3.) Project Management – If your business operates with contracts that require deliverables by a specified date in order for payment, project management tools are crucial. You can find open-source, online or downloaded software, and a VA can do the research to help you select the best one. VA’s can also keep the program up to date, run weekly reports, and create team alerts. You should also consider outsourcing the overall development of your project management plan to ensure the plan is executed flawlessly.

4.) Customer Satisfaction – You may not think about this being a disaster, but with so many ways to quickly communicate, having an unhappy customer could turn into a major problem. Think I’m exaggerating? Do a web search for internet complaints and you’ll see a huge list of websites where customers can register their dissatisfaction. Using a VA can help you avoid a disaster to your business’ reputation. A VA can quickly respond to customer emails and phone calls, professionally resolve customer problems, alert you to an unhappy customer, search out information about your company online to correct inaccuracies and make every customer interaction a happy one .

Disasters are going to happen but the best way to survive is through preparation. By having a team on your side to make sure your toolkit is full, your business will be ready to face a disaster head-on.

photo credit: marinephotobank

Posted on June 8th, 2010 by Jennifer Gallagher, General Manager

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