Business Continuity Planning

Each year, major disasters force thousands of businesses to close.

Feb 9, 2011

In 2002, I opened a small business in downtown Salt Lake City. The next year there was a catastrophic fire, and everything was lost in a matter of hours. When I first opened my business, I wasn’t thinking about a fire; I was concentrating on the daily operations of my business. I didn’t have a contingency plan and had to scramble to find space and get my business up and running again. I was lucky that my employee was the one who noticed the smoke and called the fire department then grabbed our hard drive as he left the building.

Each year, major disasters force thousands of businesses to close but even more common events such as building fires, broken water lines or sudden loss of data can end with business closure. SBA research shows that at least 25 percent of businesses that close following these events do not reopen and many that do struggle to survive. Business continuity and evacuation planning and protecting vital records such as insurance documents is critical to the success of your business.

One of the best places to get information is the State of Utah’s website:

Here are some examples of what you can do to prevent emergencies from permanently affecting your business:

1. Computers: Have you taken any of these actions to prevent damage to computers and/or loss of your critical information?

  • Secured computers to prevent damage
  • Established a back-up system for critical information
  • Elevated (in flood hazard areas) and/or braced inventory

2. Workplace Safety: Have you taken any of these actions to prevent injury to employees and customers, especially to avoid liability issues?

  • Identified structural weaknesses and improved building strength
  • Secured non-structural hazards like lighting and HVAC equipment to prevent them from falling
  • Developed special delivery arrangements of inventory after a disaster

Sometimes even small emergencies can sideline a business so make sure that your business isn’t one of the statistics and prepare a business continuity plan.

Beth Holbrook is the director of Zions Bank’s Business Resource Center. Previously, Holbrook owned Metropolitan Real Estate, a small business based in Salt Lake City. Active in the community, Holbrook is a Bountiful City Council Member, Bountiful Planning Commissioner and a Bountiful Davis Arts Council board member.

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