As technology extends the boundaries of your business into new digital frontiers, there are ever more ways for things to go belly up. Your business potentially hinges on many different servers and digital service providers. Depending on the nature of your business, you also depend on physical supply chains, couriers, and any number of other businesses and service providers which keep your company running.

In a perfect world, any one of these services or companies upon which you depend would have checks and balances in place, to keep their business afloat in the case of one catastrophe or another. But because this is not a perfect world, new problems emerge and unforeseen disasters can leave you high and dry, even if you are not directly affected.

No matter the specific nature of your business, it’s important to have a specific disaster recovery plan implemented, so that when the worst does happen, you’ll be ready. One of the great things about living in 2016 is that, even as business and technological advancements make us more vulnerable on many new fronts, there are more and better ways to keep your business running. At the very least, you should be able to cut downtime to a very small minimum.

Let’s say you are a small business. SMBs can almost never afford the loss of business resulting from even a broken or stolen server. While data recovery may be relatively simple (providing you’ve taken the necessary precautions), the purchase and setup of a new server could take up to a week. Not only will a business like this risk losing customers to similar companies (Who aren’t put temporarily out of business due to an unforeseen circumstance), the lost income/cash flow could be enough to shutter a business.

This is where a business continuity plan comes into play. This is distinct from data recovery, because it takes into account all of the infrastructure and financial streams that could lead a business into temporary decline or failure, if one or more of them was to go offline. Because there are so many types of businesses in the world, no two business continuity plans will be exactly alike. But there are certain characteristics which all of them should share.

It should be worked out well in advance how much time it would take to restore business function, in the event of a wide variety of scenarios. If there is the risk of loss of business due to destruction of physical assets, even simple items like desks or chairs, it should be known how easily and quickly these can be replaced. From here, solution design should be tailor-made to the needs of your corporation. Such preparations should be ready to be enacted at any time. Finally, Testing of your plan, acceptance at all levels of your organization, and maintenance of the planning systems you have put into place should be standard for your company for the foreseeable future. You can’t stop all disasters before they happen. But you can make sure your business isn’t wiped out when they do occur.