Small businesses face countless challenges. Luckily, Donna Childs is an expert on alleviating one of the biggest challenges - putting together a disaster recovery plan.
Unfortunately, Donna experienced the devastation of 9/11 firsthand, but used her experiences to write a book about disaster preparedness for small businesses, and get involved in numerous relief efforts globally.
She is now speaking with our very own Rob Rae and is excited to get the proper information out there - she knows that she can make a positive impact on the hard working small business owners who struggle with this task.
Donna will also be participating in Datto’s upcoming webinar, 5 Keys to Creating a Disaster Recovery Plan, in which she will share her tried and true tips and best practices for creating the essential disaster recovery plan every small business needs.
How did you become so active in the disaster recovery efforts?
Donna says, “The way it started was with my first business, which was the one that was located in lower Manhattan on 9/11, was focused on microfinance. One of my clients was the United Nations Capital Development Fund, which works on expanding microfinance globally. Then, of course, 9/11 happened and I realized that because of my background I was exceptionally well prepared. I had worked in the reinsurance industry, where my responsibilities included helping companies prepare for business interruption, risks, and other types of threats. It’s in the reinsurance companies interest to reduce the risk and reduce the claims exposure, so we provide a lot of advice on that area. While I never anticipated anything on the scope and scale of 9/11, I was exceptionally well prepared. Then that’s what led me to write a book, to share our experiences. Then I realized what disasters mean globally. Ultimately, wound that business down and started Prisere to focus on that area. Our client, the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction our largest client, their brief is to work on disaster risk reduction globally. The reason is that extreme weather events, and they’re becoming more and more frequent, and more and more severe, can set back years or even decades of social and economic development gains made by poor communities in emerging market countries. If you think about the typhoon that struck the Philippians, or more recently, the earthquakes that devastated Haiti or Nepal. Disasters can be devastating for these areas. These areas rely almost entirely on small businesses for their employment, as does most of the world economy. Reducing disaster risk is a top UN policy priority, so we’re really happy to be working in that area. That’s how it all came about. It’s sort of a long answer to your question, but I’m really excited to be doing this work.”
When discussing the importance of disaster preparedness with your clients, how do you actually go in and say, “we need to plan for this if this should happen, even though it’s very unlikely that it will?”
Donna says, “I think the key word in your question was conversation. When the MSP sits down with a small business, it has to be a conversation and not the MSP talking at the small business. I might open up, and this is one of the things I recommend in the book actually, with asking the small business, “have you ever kept a log or a record of the kind of disruptive events that you experience, that have caused you headaches or interfered with your business?” If you start thinking about it, even though you may be fortunate enough not to have experienced a hurricane or a flood, there are these everyday challenges that interfere with your business. It could be human error, it could be a power outage, and these could be hugely disruptive. We don’t typically think of them, because we’re not thinking of them in the framework of disaster. One example, that actually came to my attention recently, was the United States Patent and Trademark Office, they went down, they lost all their services for almost a week in December. The reason was because of power outage in offices in Virginia where they operated. Now, no hurricane, no flood, no major headlines, just a fairly trivial event. It’s trivial because it happened so frequent. The power outage completely disrupted their operations. I would probably start by asking the small business owner,” have you kept a log to see the kind of events that you’re experiencing, and what they’re doing to your productivity”, and so forth, because I think that forces them to think a little bit more about, yeah I never thought about it, but if I look at 30 days of what we’ve experienced, it does add up. I might start that way.”
Can you tell us a bit about the upcoming webinar that you’re doing with Datto on February 4th?
“What I’m excited about is one of the things that I did was I wrote a risk IQ test,” Donna says, “When you sign up for the webinar you’re going to get a short, like little 10 page quiz, nothing major, and you can just take a look at it and see what do you think the answers are. Give it a little bit of thought. Then we’re going to open up by seeing how people answered and what the correct answers are. I think, what a lot of people are going to find is that they really didn’t have an accurate assessment of the risks. Hopefully that will be an eye opener, and focus our intentions towards doing some really productive work on that webinar, to get rid of that risk in a very constructive way, that’s empowering for your business. We’re going to go through best practices, we’re going to go through five steps to creating a disaster recovery plan, and what we’re also going to do, after the webinar is over, is for everyone who wants one, they’re going to get a template or a blueprint of things they can do to get started. They’re not going to be overwhelmed with oh my goodness, the webinars over, now what do I do. You have a concrete action steps that you can do that break it down in very simple ways. You also, as you mentioned, if you can’t participate in the live recording, the live broadcast, it will be recorded. Those recordings will be available, so you can go back and refresh, or if you have new employees join your company they can go take a look at it, when they sign on it’ll be available to them. Any follow up questions you have we’re available to answer them at any time, so there will be ongoing support. I’m excited about that. Hopefully, we’ll get some work done, raise some awareness, and break it down for people, so they realize that this is important and it’s very simple and manageable.”