Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Importance of Disaster Recovery

The San Diego firestorm (and yes, I live in a threaten area near Fallbrook in north San Diego county) reminds us just how important it is to be prepared for a disaster. For a business, this means having one or backup copies of critical records. Studies have demonstrated time and again that businesses which are unable to recover critical information typically fail after a disaster.

And it's not enough to just have a backup copy of important information. You need to have backups that are stored off-site or are at least portable. For those of you who operate home businesses, backup your data daily to removeable disks (e.g., a zip drive or memory stick) or to a portable external drive that can be quickly disconnected and thrown into a travel bag. Some home businesses even use different memory sticks for specific files. Store at least one copy off-site (someone else's home, a safe deposit box, etc.). Have a dedicated fire-proof and water-proof safe box to preserve data stored on removeable storage devices.

Ideally, critical data should be backed up to a remote site that can be readily accessed from any location for fast recovery. Inexpensive online services, like Carbonite, that provide continuous, secure background backup over the Internet are a good, easy solution.

Don't feel snug if you have important information in an online Website database and not at your your business or home office location. After all, what happens if the Website location suffers a fire, flood, tornado or terrorist event? Always download and backup your Website on a periodic basis. Likewise, maintain duplicate backup files of really critical information, rather than entirely trusting your livelihood to a remote backup site.

Finally, make sure your backup solution allows you to quickly access or repopulate data. It does no good to protect critical information if you run into problems when you try to restore it.

You won't realize how very important your business records are until you actually face a disaster...and by then it's too late if you haven't taken prior precautions.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Creating Market Awareness for your Products or Services

Public relations ("PR") is not a black art. It is as essential for small businesses as it is for large corporations. Let's face it - it's hard to sell your product or service if the market you are targeting has never heard of you.

Of course, you can blanket your target market with expensive advertising in magazines, the radio, television or newspapers. But did you know you can accomplish much the same thing through effective PR programs? In many ways, PR is "free" advertising and often much more effective than expensive alternatives.

Public relations takes many forms. It can be a press release that takes on a life of its own on the Internet, placing an article about your company in a widely read publication, having a published interview, winning an industry award, or briefing industry analysts. These activities spread your message in an effective, credible fashion.

Online press releases and articles contain embedded links back to your Website. Since these get picked up by other Websites, newsletters and blogs, interested readers often follow the embedded links to your Website. This increases your Website traffic. Also, having incoming links from other Internet entities drives up your organic search engine ranking. It's a win-win situation!