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Every year, as the Atlantic hurricane season approaches many businesses have a nagging realization that they are at risk due to a catastrophic “Black Swan ” event. Black Swan events are a constant source of risk in states like Florida where many communities are subject to disruption due to coastal storms. This risk is particularly acute for businesses that depend on the storage of on-line data if there is a chance their critical data could become lost or corrupted. But the threat from Black Swan events isn’t limited to Florida, nor is it limited to large scale disruptive events like hurricanes.The black swan theory or theory of black swan events describes a disruptive event that comes as a surprise, has a major effect, and is often inappropriately rationalized after the fact with the benefit of hindsight. The term is based on an ancient saying which presumed black swans did not exist, but the saying was rewritten after black swans were discovered in the wild. Consider the following scenario… “We tend to think of disasters in terms of the attacks on the World Trade Center, Hurricane Katrina, or other mega events. Sometimes, however, less notable events occur that can have a catastrophic effect on a business. In February 1981, an electrical fire in the basement of the State Office Building in Binghamton, New York, spread throughout the basement of the building setting fire to a transformer containing over a thousand gallons of toxin-laden oil. Originally thought to be PCBs, the toxins were soon determined to contain dioxin and dibenzofuran, two of the most dangerous chemicals ever created. The fire was smoky and quickly filled the 18-story building with smoke. As the transformer burned, the soot entered the buildings ventilation shafts and quickly spread toxic soot throughout the building. The building was so badly contaminated that it took 13 years and over $47 million to clean before the building could be reentered or used. Because of the nature of the fire, the building and its contents, including all paper records, computers, and personal effects of the people who worked there, were not recoverable. This type of event would be irrecoverable for many businesses.” – Operations Due Diligence, Published by McGraw Hill What affect would a catastrophic hurricane that affected an entire region or a localized disruptive event like a fire have on the operation of your business? Could you survive that kind of interruption or loss? As the dependence on on-line data has grown in virtually every type of business, so has the risk that loss of their data could disrupt the operation of the business and even result in its complete failure. In response to these threats, there has been an evolution in the approaches used to mitigate these risks as the volume of on-line data has continued to grow. Originally, the concept of Disaster Recovery (DR) emerged as a mitigation strategy that focused on the recovery of critical data after a disruptive event by giving the business the ability to restore disrupted IT operations. Disaster Recovery (DR) involves a set of policies and procedures that enable the restoration of critical business data and allows the IT infrastructure to be restored to a prior state. DR was originally seen as the domain of the IT department who were given responsibility for mitigating the risk. To minimize the risk, system backups were scheduled frequently and aggressive DR plans that included server cold start procedures and data backups were implemented. The goal was to restore the infrastructure to the last point where the data had been backed up (at the time, typically on tape). The acceptable DR practices at the time allowed the IT system to be rebooted when the facility power was finally restored… Unless it was in a flood zone or the off-site backup storage facility had also been impacted. In either case, the operation of the facility could potentially be disrupted for some period of time and the data restoration was also potentially at risk depending on where backups were stored. Now let’s roll the calendar ahead… As technology evolved so did the Disaster Recovery strategies, which lead to new concepts that evolved to the requirements for a Business Continuity solution as a means of mitigating risk. Still seen as the domain of IT, as technology moved towards solutions like shadow servers, distributed data locations and high speed bulk data transmission with hyper connectivity. Data no longer had to be “recovered”, it just had to be connected in distributed locations where it could be remotely accessed. Business Continuity mitigated the risk of data loss and allowed a business to recover much more quickly and efficiently from a Black Swan event because its servers never went completely down. Business Continuity originally encompassed planning and preparation to ensure that an organization’s IT infrastructure remained intact enabling the business to efficiently recover to an operational state within a reasonably short period following a Black Swan event. Technology today has evolved towards cloud solutions that put both the data and the applications into remote “cloud” locations so it would seem the IT responsibility for mitigating the risk of on-line data loss or corruption has been solved. With highly connected, fully distributed solutions, some people feel the need for business continuity may be fading in criticality. Nothing could be further from the truth… The fact is the risk was never solely in the loss of the data but the loss of the businesses ability to operate. There are businesses that cannot tolerate any disruption to their operations. These include healthcare, insurance, and communications companies, critical logistic suppliers, transportation providers and local governments. It is during Black Swan events that the services and products these businesses provide may be most needed. The requirements of other, less critical businesses, whose operations could be interrupted for days or even weeks, but who might face a significant financial risk, may also make their continued operation a matter of corporate survival. Today’s technology has completely abstracted business processing and data from the user by moving critical IT infrastructures into the cloud. Cloud technology enables users to work from remote locations, but use of the cloud doesn’t fully mitigate operational risk. It means people have now replaced computers as the critical path to continued operations. The operation of the business is more likely to be interrupted because key personnel aren’t prepared to sustain operations during a Black Swan event. They don’t have a facility that has been proactively planned to support operations during disruptive events that could last for hours, days or weeks. Particularly in areas like Florida, where large natural disasters such as hurricanes can disrupt services to entire communities, resilient businesses need to prepare in advance for sustained operations during a disruptive event. The ability of a business to continue its operations during times of distress are a measure of the businesses resiliency. Business Resiliency: takes business continuity to another level because it makes it the domain of operations management rather than leaving it solely as the domain of the IT Department. When planning for disaster recovery or business continuity the critical link is now the people who are needed to operate critical systems remotely. Yes, there are occasions where staff can work from home or from remote facilities the business may operate, however, this is not always a satisfactory answer and even when it is, businesses often find themselves scrambling to play catch up, trying to figure out who does what and “how can we get it done under these circumstances” situations. During Black Swan events including regional disruptions like hurricanes or local disruptions such as fires, many of the people the business relies on may not have power, internet or even a phone needed to enable them to work from home. Because you can’t put people in the cloud, Business Resiliency requires planning, training and practice so that your staff knows how and when to mobilize. Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/9780312

Many business owners are working so hard at their business that they fail to enjoy the rewards of being the business owner. If you are letting the life of your business overrule the business of living your life, hitnews360 then it is time to begin turning the tides.

Finding ways to make your business work harder for you and your family is the reason we all started our businesses in the first place. If your business is obstructing your efforts to enjoy life with friends and family, this is a problem. We all know a lot of work goes into building a successful business, but if it is consuming all your time, effort and energy… is it worth it?

Why this coordination is important:

Every time you find new ways to help your family benefit from the efforts of your business, your life balance and family life improves.

If your business consumes your entire life and your family life suffers because of it, your spouse and children may actually resent the time that you spend there. Even if it provides a great deal of income, the value of family and social life may be sacrificed.

Make your business help you, your family and your social life. You will be happier, healthier and live a longer more rewarding life.

5 Ways To Consider:

Consider paying children’s education expenses as wages for work

Many small business owners make a good living and have higher than average incomes. This can cause their family to qualify for little to no college financial aid when their children are ready to attend college.

If you are going to have to pay for it anyway, snotforce why not pay your children to help out at your small business. Pay them as an employee, contractor or consultant to do work for you and your business.

If you pay them enough to cover their college costs, you will receive a tax deduction for the cost of their college education by deducting their income from your business. They will be responsible for helping out with your business and they may surprise you with how much value they add to the business. New ideas, new technology, a new and different viewpoint might be just what your business needs.

Schedule family vacations around business travel

When a family vacation is something you’re considering, think about coordinating it around a work trip. Do you need to go to conventions, trade shows, seminars or other training for work? If you drive to go to those business activities, your gas mileage is tax-deductible regardless of how many individuals you have in the car with you. Does this conference or training trip require you to stay in a hotel? Your hotel expenses for that night can also be deductible regardless of whether you have your family with you in the room.

Scheduling family vacations around business travel can help make it more manageable. This allows you to enjoy time with your family or friends while also working on your business. Consult with your spouse or family to coordinate the two.

Manage taxable income and year-end purchases to lower tax bracket

Operating and owning a business requires seeing the big picture and planning for the future. Your business will likely need new or updated equipment, computers, other technologies etc. to operate smoothly and efficiently. Be able to forecast these needs.

Here is where you coordinate your tax situation with these needs.  If you know you are in need of new equipment, computers, etc. in the near future, theboogerbandit look at your taxes. If you are looking at a higher tax bracket for the year you may want to make these necessary equipment purchases sooner than expected. Or you may want to wait until next year. This requires consulting with your business advisor to determine the best option.

Use Retirement Plans

Consider reducing your current income by using a Retirement Plan. Not only will this help you once again for tax purposes, but it’s also helping you and your families future. So many small business owners neglect to put retirement needs on their priority list. Often we hear “my business is my retirement plan.” Putting all of your eggs into one basket can be extremely risky and even dangerous for your future.

You may want to consider adjusting your salary in order to account for contributing to a retirement plan. There are many ways to rearrange things to make it possible to contribute. The tax savings alone can help justify the redirecting of your income into a retirement plan. Be sure to look at all of the different options and scenarios as this will provide further clarity.

Also if you choose to offer your employees a retirement plan, this will help attract quality employees, retain them and allow for an additional tax savings for any company match. You may even be able to take a few days off without worrying about the business functioning without you! Think of how that would allow you more family time. Consult with your financial advisor to clarify your options and the benefits to you, your business and your family.

Consider adding or using a home office arrangement

There are many benefits of utilizing a home office arrangement for you, your business and especially your family. If you’re currently renting or paying for office space it may be feasible to create or use an office space at home. With technology today, working out of the house has become much more functional.

If you’re solely stationed out of your home, this provides for another tax benefit. You are able to write off the portion of your mortgage that accounts for the square footage of your home office. Also any improvement expenses, fallennews internet expenses, utility expenses or taxes that are directly related to your home office may also be deductions. Finding ways to cut taxes is crucial for a small business owner.

If your line of work makes it unable to be based completely out of your house, even just working a day or two from home will allow you to spend more time around your family and add some flexibility to your work schedule.