The kind of loss Francis Ford Coppola suffered last week wasn't caused
by a natural disaster, but in some ways it typifies what a small
business could face.
As international news reports indicated, Mr. Coppola's home in the
Palermo section of Buenos Aires was robbed of computers and, most
important, a computer backup device containing 15 years' worth of work
and family photos. The five-time Academy Award-winning director can
replace the hardware; he said he wants the backup returned.
Whether it's a burglary, fire, flood or other natural disaster, the
loss Mr. Coppola experienced could be yours, and it could be critical
if the lost data undergirds a small business. According to one white
paper on the subject, "80 percent of companies that do not recover
from a disaster within one month are likely to go out of business,"
said Jonathan Bernstein, president of Bernstein Crisis Management,
LLC, in Sierra Madre, Calif., a Los Angeles suburb.
To make matters worse, said Mark J. Dobosz, vice president for
development at the Herndon, Va.-based Service Corps of Retired
Executives, "Small business owners and entrepreneurs are so passionate
about what they do, that their intense focus can often be a
double-edged sword for them." In other words, we're too focused on our
work, sometimes, to think about the worst that can happen until it
The non-profit, which grew out of the U.S. Small Business
Administration during the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson, specializes
in offering free advice to small businesses, drawing on the resources
of retired small business owners and corporate managers. These people
have "been there," so to speak, and can help with disaster planning,
Mr. Dobosz said, as well as give advice on what insurance might be
"SCORE counselors can work with a small business owner in
understanding what types of insurance are appropriate for their
industry, so they make informed decisions when the entrepreneur talks
to an insurance professional," he said.
There's a high-tech angle, too: Joining SCORE in this is Hewlett
Packard Company, whose director of small and medium business
marketing, Lisa W. Baker, told me the firm is creating workshops where
small business can learn what to do to prepare for data loss in a
disaster. The firm has already hosted such workshops in Houston, St.
Louis, Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, and Orange County, Calif.
Plans for the Washington, D.C. area are believed to be in development.
"What I hear from these small businesses is that they know it is one
of the most important issues they face, they know they need to do it,
but they just aren't sure where and how to start," Ms. Baker said.
"What HP and SCORE bring to the table are the tools, resources and
products solutions to bring it all together and make it happen."
Mr. Dobosz added, "Data loss can literally mean the end to an
otherwise successful business. One of the reasons SCORE and HP
developed a collaborative workshop on using technology to protect your
business data was for this very reason."
Backups such as Mr. Coppola's are important, but it's also vital
to have things stored "off-site," or away from the office. HP offers
solutions to help accomplish that, Ms. Baker said.
"HP Smart Data Protection service offers off-site client data
protection," she explained. "Our 3-in-1 network-attached-storage
docking station is compatible with all HP Business Notebook PCs, and
it allows you to backup, share files and dock your notebook all in one
device while providing an integrated 160 GB hard drive. Another
option is the HP StorageWorks Media Vault Pro, which provides auto PC
backup, data sharing, collaboration and offsite secure storage for
your small business without any IT staff."
Of course, the time to do such planning as the godfather of "The
Godfather" movies will tell you is before disaster strikes. Find
resources at www.score.org and www.hp.com.