There is a lot of discussion about the difference between preparing for a disaster so you can recover, and planning to continue to stay in business no matter what causes a business interruption. Many people ask what the difference is. Do they mean the same thing? Isn't the end result the same?

Yes and no. There is a slight difference – an ever so slight difference – between the two. Disaster Preparedness and Recovery (DPR) is often focused on disasters only. Most consider a disaster as something that negatively affects the company, closing it completely. These can vary in severity. Examples are a hurricane, tornado or other weather-related destruction, or an earthquake or explosion. Often these events shut down public utilities, streets, transportation and communication throughout a large area. A computer crash or building fire would fall under the category of a smaller disaster, but a disaster to you, nonetheless.

Business Continuity Planning (BCP) is the process of preparing to keep your company open for business, no matter what might cause a disruption. Examples of items to consider (in addition to those listed above) are illnesses affecting the majority of your employees, a union strike or employee walk-out, loss of power in your building, a major supplier failing to deliver on time, etc. Small compared to the catastrophes listed under DPR, but certainly enough to severely affect your business operations.

When considering DPR, many don't see a need. I've asked business owners why, and often receive the response that they just don't think it will happen to them; they feel the odds are against this type of major loss. That is unfortunate, because FEMA reports that 40 percent to 60 percent of business who experience a disaster never reopen their doors.

On the other hand, most business owners do realize they can easily face any of the smaller, more common type of disruptions noted and therefore are more apt to plan for them.

Preparing for any type of interruption in the day-to-day operations, having a plan in place to address each issue, and testing it to know that it works, is key to remaining open or recovering quickly. Whether you call it Disaster Preparedness and Recovery or Business Continuity Planning, the end result is the same.

When you are thorough and have both, you'll be able to recover quickly and have your employees back to work sooner than those business owners who didn't find it necessary to be proactive. Your employees will thank you for it!

Author's Bio: 

Cindy Hartman has found that a wide range of corporate experience served her well in late 2004 as she and her husband, Mike, pursued their entrepreneurial dream. As President of Hartman Inventory LLC,, a personal property inventory service, Cindy brought her corporate marketing, customer service, training and finance experience into the business. This experience came from industries that included retail, manufacturing, education and distribution.

Additionally, she is Vice President of Hartman Inventory Systems LLC, which is a turnkey package that assists others who have a desire for business ownership. Interest in this new, growing industry is a result of having been burglarized twice. Experiencing the difficulty of the insurance claims process and resulting potential loss after a burglary, fire or natural disaster, she has made it her mission to share the importance of knowing what you own with business owners, renters and home owners. She shares this knowledge through her company newsletter and blogs.