Ensuring the continuity of your business operations in the face of unexpected challenges is critical. An unforeseen disaster or disruption can significantly impact your brand’s reputation, customer trust and revenue, potentially putting your company at risk of going under. To avoid this, online businesses need to plan and comprehensively prepare for these scenarios. In this post, we’ve provided some essential business continuity tips for online brands.
- Understand the potential risks
The starting point for putting business continuity procedures into place is to identify the potential risks your online brand faces. This could range from digital threats, such as cyberattacks and data breaches, to physical threats, like natural disasters affecting your server locations. It’s essential to evaluate each risk based on its likelihood and the potential impact on your operations. By understanding the risks, you can take preventative measures and devise a comprehensive response plan.
- Regularly back up data
One of the primary concerns during any disaster is data loss. To minimise the impact, make sure all your business data, including customer databases, transaction records and website content, is regularly backed up. For some businesses, this means scheduling automatic updates to take place at high frequency. Today, cloud-based backup solutions are the best choice for storing data offsite. This guarantees that even if your primary servers face an outage or get compromised, your data remains secure in a different location.
- Implement a Disaster Recovery (DR) Plan
Disaster recovery is the process of restoring and retrieving data and applications after an emergency. An effective DR plan should outline:
- The roles and responsibilities of your recovery team.
- A detailed inventory of your software, hardware and data.
- A communication strategy to inform your stakeholders, customers and employees.
- A list of the applications and data that are your priorities during recovery.
- The testing and maintenance schedules for your DR plan.
- Diversify data centre locations
For online brands that host their IT and websites in-house, relying on a single data centre or server location can leave your business vulnerable. If your data centre experiences an outage or disaster, it could take your entire operation offline. Consider hosting your website with a web host that has data centres in multiple geographical locations. This way, if one location goes offline, another centre can take over and maintain your online presence.
- Keep in contact with stakeholders
In the event of a disaster, maintaining communication becomes critical. Make sure that you have a system in place to notify your customers, employees and stakeholders about the situation. Regular updates can help alleviate concerns, mitigate frustrations and show your brand is committed to resolving the issue promptly. It’s also a good idea to have website templates or pre-drafted messages for different scenarios to speed up the communication process during emergencies.
- Invest in cybersecurity measures
Cyber threats are among the most significant risks for online brands and putting robust security measures in place can prevent many disruptions. Regularly update software, employ strong firewalls, train your staff in cybersecurity best practices and invest in intrusion detection systems. Preventing a cyber-attack is far more cost-effective than dealing with its aftermath. If you use a web host, you will find that many of these protections come with your hosting plan.
- Regularly review your continuity plan
The digital landscape is continually evolving and so are the potential threats. For this reason, it’s essential to regularly review and update your business continuity and disaster recovery plans. What was sufficient a year ago might not be effective given where your business is today and the new threats which may have evolved. By keeping your strategies updated, you ensure that they remain relevant and effective.
- Train your team
Your employees play an important role in ensuring business continuity. Regular training sessions can equip them to handle emergencies effectively and potentially stop them from happening. Whether it’s following data backup procedures, communicating with customers or initiating the disaster recovery process, a well-trained team can act swiftly and reduce potential damages.
- Test Your DR and continuity plans
Having a plan on paper is one thing, but its effectiveness can only be gauged when tested. Conduct periodic simulations to test your disaster recovery and business continuity strategies. These tests will highlight any gaps or inefficiencies, allowing you to refine the plan further.
- Prioritise critical operations
Not all your business operations will be of equal importance to you. Should a disaster occur, you should know in advance which operations are critical to your online brand and these should be the ones you prioritise for recovery. For instance, ensuring your website remains live might be more critical than retrieving archived data immediately.
For online brands that rely on technology to sell their products and services, ensuring business continuity is vital. With customers expecting round-the-clock service, even a short period of downtime can have a lasting impact. By understanding potential risks, investing in preventative measures and having a robust disaster recovery plan in place, you can safeguard your business against these disruptions.
Webhosting UK offers a choice of two different kinds of remote backup solutions, depending on your company’s needs. For more information visit our R1Soft Website and Server Backup Solutions or our Acronis Cyber Protect Backup pages.