Many small B2B service businesses rely on access to their office in order to run their business. What if you lost access to that office? What if you had to flee your town or city in order to save yourself and your family? I am watching people flee a wildfire as I write this and realize this sort of disaster can strike anywhere. Are you prepared to be able to run your business from anywhere? Let me share how I’ve planned for this situation.
Key files on a cloud service
I store all of my key client, prospect, and business operations files on Microsoft’s OneDrive service. It doesn’t matter where I am or what computer I have to use, all of my files are instantly accessed once I login to OneDrive. I can use the online versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint if I need to make quick changes to the files and I can’t use a desktop version of Office.
Email accessible via a browser
My email is accessible through any browser. Many people access email through their browser for Gmail or other services, but make sure your business email is as easily accessible. I host my email on a Microsoft Exchange service so all of my past emails are stored on their service, as well as my computer. So if I access my online email, I see all of my emails, not just the ones that have come in since I last downloaded them to my computer. If you no longer have your computer, this will be important.
Secondary files on backup service
All of secondary files are stored with an online backup service, Backblaze (click here to read more about my backup strategy). I can access the files from a browser wherever I happen to be. I won’t need these files for day to day operations, so it is OK that they aren’t as accessible as the key files I store on OneDrive.
I use the standard Microsoft Office suite: Outlook, Excel, Word, and PowerPoint. I have an Office 365 subscription, which allows me to install the software on up to five computers. If I need to get a new computer up and running quickly, I can login to my Office account and start installing the full suite in minutes.
Use a Microsoft Account with Windows
Starting in Windows 8, you have the option to login to Windows with a Microsoft Account. When you do, it recognizes you and remembers the settings you set up on your other computer. If I have to set up a new computer, I just login with my Microsoft Account and it starts setting up the new computer with the same settings as I am used to.
Digitize written notes
As much as possible, I digitize any notes I write about calls with prospects or clients. Since I don’t type while I am speaking on the phone, I usually take a photo of the written notes and store it in the appropriate place on OneDrive or OneNote. These are automatically synced to the cloud and accessible from any computer.
Cloud based services
I use cloud based services for some key business functions. I use OneNote to track prospects, upcoming workshops, and a variety of other information. I use Freshbooks for my accounting and HST tracking. I use 1Password to securely store the passwords for all my accounts everywhere. With all of these cloud services, you just login and you pick up where you left off. With 1Password, I can always access the passwords and setup information for all of the services I use without needing a paper list or trying to remember them all (which would be impossible for me to do)
Website hosted with reliable host
My website is hosted at a secure hosting site located in a different geographical region. Make sure your host is reliable and has a backup plan to keep you online in case anything happens. My first web host was a local company and when we had a big power outage on the East Coast a few years back, they were down for four days! I changed web hosts shortly after that.
I hope you never have to evacuate and face the reality of running your business from a temporary location. The above strategies also allow me to run my business easily when travelling, so if you like to explore the world, you might get an added bonus from adopting some of these plans.