Posted by: Jeff Rhodes | December 5, 2011

“Sir – They wanted me to tell you that your office building is on fire.”

This is what a friend of mine heard as he settled in to watch his daughters’ ballet performance on Saturday night.

Saturday was eventful in my small hometown.  A historic three-story building on the corner of two prominent downtown streets caught fire.  Fortunately, the building was vacant – occupied by the leftover furniture and equipment of a defunct restaurant that closed several years ago.  Unfortunately, the building was surrounded on all sides by other business spaces.  Typical of old-downtown construction, all of the surrounding structures were equally old and attached to the burning building.   The adjacent structure contained:  a spa, an CPA’s office, an estate planner, an insurance agency, a law firm, and several retail stores. 

The local fire department did a good job of containing the fire.  Although the primary structure was a total loss – the roof ultimately collapsed – none of the surrounding buildings suffered any major structural damage…


The fire department poured tens of thousands of gallons of water into the building.

Smoke from the fire rendered surrounding businesses uninhabitable for a while.  Carpets, ceilings, furniture, etc will likely need to be thrown out. 

The unstable structure of the burned out building may prevent the surrounding offices from opening for several more days or weeks.


Things to consider before someone taps you on the shoulder with the disturbing news of disaster in progress:

Do you do offsite computer file backup?  Every once in a while or daily, without fail?

What files might be lost if your laptop or personal computer were destroyed?

Are your emails backed up?  What might be lost if your email account didn’t exist on Monday morning?

How will you retain key employees and key clients, if your business is closed down for a month?

What plan do you have in place to get your business up and running as quickly as possible? 

What insurance coverage is available to provide the resources to address these things?

Are they on the policy you have now, or were they optional? 

These are more than “good questions.”  They are questions to which all business owners – and employees – must KNOW the answers.

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