One night last week a fire broke out in a building next to the office where my son works.  Everything in their office was destroyed and the building will have to be repaired before they can return to it.  Due to the current situation staff were already working remotely so work could continue without too much delay.

A situation such as this would come as a massive shock to all business owners who have their own premises and highlights how we should all have a disaster recovery plan in place.  To some extent I am sure we all do.  We have backups of our data or information is stored in the cloud.  And now most people are working outside of the office computer equipment is already available and work can continue more or less as before.

But have you thought about the implications of losing everything.  Would you be able to list all the equipment and furniture you have?  Would you know the value of what you have lost?  Would you have access to the insurance policy?  Would you be able to contact all the people you need to contact?  How quickly could you get back up and running?

There are numerous things to think about and if it happened you may not be able to think straight, let alone lay your hands on all the information you need.  So it makes sense to put together a folder of information that you keep at home whether in paper or electronic format and a trusted person should be able to access it in case you need their help. 

Apart from obvious things like computers and printers and desks and chairs that will be lost, could you identify other things which may be important but are irreplaceable?

Bookkeepers and accountants generally have a lot of paperwork, although that it is rapidly reducing now that we use cloud accounting software and store documents electronically. But we still have lots of clients who don't want to do electronic and prefer to give us paperwork which we file, archive at year end and attempt to persuade them to collect once the accounts for the year are finalised.  If we were in that awful situation of losing everything accounts records for many of our clients would be gone and payroll records from past years which we still need to retain would be gone. 

A lot of business information would be gone too and some of it would be difficult or impossible to replace.  My statutory accounts which are my record of my business growth and which in the early years were only in paper format; my qualification certificates and certificates of other awards and achievements gained along the way; the history of my AML registration and the registration number; the lease for my premises.  These are just a few things but there will be many more.

Storing everything important away from the office doesn't make sense as it would just fill a cupboard at home instead but it does make sense to go through everything and record all the important information so it is to hand if ever needed.  

No-one can ever be fully prepared for this or a similar situation but being as prepared as possible can be of some comfort.  I know I shall now be making time to gather together all my important information and ensure I have an up to date inventory.