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Not having backups in place puts both your business and your life at risk.

The best time to put your backups in place is yesterday. The next best time is today.

Fortunately, a comprehensive business continuity plan was in place at the time of my accident; otherwise, it could have meant the end of an entire body of work compiled over a lifetime. Wouldn’t that just suck?

Afterward, as a responsible business owner and parent, the serious nature of my injuries inspired me to revisit every backup process I had put in place to be sure I’d covered all the bases and also to update details where needed. (Practically speaking, it had been some time since I’d prepared the initial documentation.)

No sooner had that decision been made when doesn’t Melanie Pinola‘s post Top 10 Backups Everyone Should Have (Not Just Computer Backups), appear on Lifehacker. And I immediately decided it needed to be required reading for our SMARTSTART Community.

(If you haven’t seen it yet, please read the entire post as soon as possible. I’m quite certain you’ll want to include more than one backup on the list in your own collection of processes this year.)

Here’s the top 10 list and some background for reference.

10. Computer Backups

Chances are it isn’t just your business that’s online but a great deal of your life as well. And, it isn’t a matter of if you’ll ever need to use a computer backup, it’s only a matter of when. If you don’t have a backup you can rely on think about what that will mean to you. Enough said. Right?

This one is a no-brainer when you use an automated back up system. (I’m a long-time Carbonite fan.) Make sure you have a process in place that thoroughly protects your data. You get to decide what, when, how and how often.

9. An Emergency Fund

Some people call this by other names such as the “F. U. money” or the “rainy day” account but whatever you call it, there really must be something set aside for financial emergencies. The discipline of setting this money aside and designating it untouchable (except in qualifying emergencies) has the power to change your life!

In business you need to have a cash reserve available at all times. At home, having a set amount in your cash stash comes in very handy in times of emergency as well.

By the way, the amounts you keep in reserve may fluctuate and the limit you set is far less important than establishing the habit of setting up and maintaining your cash reserves.

8. Second Credit Card

Most people have more than one credit and debit card these days and a few have adopted the habit of keeping business and personal cards separate. The point here is don’t use them all at once. One credit card should be kept in reserve as a backup so you have something to fall back on in a worst-case scenario.

If you are obsessed with shopping or travel, the very idea of having one card that’s not getting a regular workout may be incomprehensible. But trust me, this is a wonderful gift to give yourself. So, pick a card, designate it your backup, pay it off in full (however long it takes), and stop using it.

7. Work Assignment Backups

This next trick is one I’ve used for decades in managing projects of all kinds. A work backup is a great stress reducer. That means blog posts are written ahead and put on hold to publish on demand if there’s an unexpected derailment of my schedule. And there is an entire book where I log post and article ideas in case the creative well runs dry.

Also, recurring client reports are prepared ahead of time so I never miss a due date and contingency windows are built into all project plans. In addition, tandem client files are put on portable drives — this redundancy can be a life-saver for you!

And, for the ultimate work-related emergency, I have trusted competitors available to whom client work can be referred to should it ever become necessary. (This has only happened twice in 35 years (1985 and 2009) but it really was a great backup to have at the ready.)

6. Internet Access

Most of our community works from home using laptops, pcs, smartphones and other devices. But, when you’re in the middle of a critical project and lose your internet access for whatever reason (and I think I’ve now experienced just about every reason on the damn planet), you need to have a backup for internet access.

This is one backup I’ve had to rely on several times with the worst-case scenario being losing access minutes before a webinar was scheduled to resume after the lunch break. (I shudder just remembering that day!)

Whatever you choose for your internet backup though, do take it through a dry run so you’ll know exactly where to go and what to do to get back online fast. This is a techno-stress hell no one wants to be in yet seems a rite of passage. Preparation and dress rehearsal can take the edge off of some of that stress for you.

5. Another Computer or Tablet

This has been a lifesaver for me on more than one occasion. I am so so glad I kept my ancient ThinkPad operational! Actually, I have a trio of options in this backup process and now, thanks to the Lifehacker post, I’m considering investing in a fourth, i.e., the portable Linux thumb drive.

4. Your Official Records

One of the projects for this year is planning my funeral with my children and putting all of my affairs in order for them. Although I’d started on this about 10 years ago, we didn’t finish it completely, then it sort of fell by the wayside.

The near-fatal accident was a wake-up call that this must be completed as soon as possible. However, I’d been procrastinating resuming the project even though I found it really quite interesting to work on. And now that I have discovered all of the cool resources in Melanie’s post, I’m looking forward to getting back to it.

3. Emergency Contacts

Many people have an ICE (In Case of Emergency) contacts list already in place on their phones (or carried in wallets). If you don’t, this is an easy place to start. There are a few adds, such as medication lists, you might consider including as well depending on your personal situation.

With my children, I also use “code” words and phrases for different things — that started as a way of protecting them from abduction by predators. (Yes, I was that kind of mom.)

But consider this — code words also work with emergency contacts designated to operate your business if you become unable to do so. In fact, that is how SMARTSTART kept going as needed immediately after the car accident (which was the trigger event for enacting the long-term business continuity plan).

2. Supplies for an Emergency

Remember Y2K? Well, perhaps many of you won’t but I was ready!

Emergency preparedness has always held great appeal for me. I love watching survivalist shows too and have picked up many great tips there (although, thankfully, I’ve never had to use a single one). I don’t care if people think I’m over-the-top with survival backup plans. I sleep well at night. (And you will too.)

1. Plans for the Future

I’ve always had a Plan B. Even as a child. Having Plan B is what allows you to stay laser-focused on Plan A.

At work, it’s your “career options”, in business, it’s called your “exit strategy”. In life, it just makes it more likely you’ll enjoy the ride more and get back up again no matter what has knocked you down.

So, what’s your Plan B?

(If you haven’t figured it out yet, now is the time to start thinking about it. Yes or yes?)

More next time. Until then, remember to LOVE YOUR WORK, whatever it may be.

PS Did this post speak to you? If so, please feel free to share it with your own communities, friends and followers. Thanks for sharing the love! ♥♥♥