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Her Majesty’s recent Platinum Jubilee catapulted me back a whole decade.

Picture the scene. It was May 31st 2012.

I had recently signed the Sale and Purchase agreement for the sale of 90% of my first business. One of the main conditions of sale is for me look after the sold portfolio perfectly for a transitional period of two months whilst the cases migrate to the purchaser. 

Receiving a phone call just as I was about to walk onto a football pitch, I hurriedly answered, eager to get on with the game.

Clive, the server room is on fire!

And just like that, my stomach rocketed up into my throat. 95% of my business relied on that room. 

Thankfully, everyone was alright. The emergency services were on their way. Numb at the thought of what a fire in the server room meant for my business, I got straight into my car and on the road.

What did I see on arrival? Not one, but four fire engines. FOUR. Panic began buzzing around my body and really set in hard when I saw the look on my then IT Manager’s face.

He hadn’t noticed me arrive yet, so he wasn’t able to mask it.

It was the look of pure doom.

As it turned out, our Disaster Recovery Plan was not up to date, and far from complete. We’d lost our main server. 

I was beside myself. Was I going to lose my business? What about my employees

Then, I remembered to breathe. One step at a time, we made decisions. We worked through the holes in the plan.

Over the coming days, the whole team pulled together calmly and collaboratively to communicate the disaster to customers, introducers and the purchaser’. We needed to take extra care to make sure no one panicked.

There were hiccups – two other servers failed in the days following the fire – but the catastrophe was under control

Just about.

Thankfully, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee was that weekend, so it meant we gained two extra bank holiday days. This meant, by a miracle (and a painfully expensive express delivery), we were fully operational by the first working day back…

Narrowly avoiding a breach and financial penalties under theTransitional Services Agreement.

By the skin of our teeth, we’d done it.

And so, with drink in hand celebrating Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee this past weekend, I have been humbled by the memory of the worst business experience of my life. And I’ve had plenty.

Reliving the incident brought to mind some basic but often forgotten business lessons that I’d like to revisit. 

We ought to stand solidly by the following four pillars in this turbulent world. Because let’s face it, it’s far from slowing down. 

1 – All Team Members Matter

You might own the business, or run the department, but every single individual within your business is a cog in the same machine

Without each other, nothing works. It’s trite, but the acronym T.E.A.M. really does run true. And never more so than in an emergency.

Together, Everyone Achieves More.

2 – Lead By Example

Treating others with respect will earn you the same

If you run your business with people-centred values, your employees will come through for you when you need them most.

3 – Act Quickly

By simply reacting to the situation at speed, my staff prevented what could have been the demise of 12 years of my blood, sweat and tears.

4 – Always Test Your Plan

A disaster will very quickly highlight weaknesses in planned defences, but by then it’s often too late. 

Disaster Recovery Planning is a critical element of any business’ futureproofing. It is a necessary line of defence against the unthinkable.

I’ve been there. It can happen. 

You might be lucky, the tragedy might coincide with a national holiday…

But it likely won’t.

Take the time. Test the plan. Because you could lose your business if you don’t.

What does your Disaster Recovery Plan look like? 

Don’t have one? Don’t chance it! Book a call today and let’s start putting one together before catastrophe strikes.

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