Why Finagle’s Law Of Dynamic Negatives Matters To Your Micro Business IT

IT SupportApologies in advance for the bad news…

But it’s a scientific fact that at some point your computer WILL stop working.

It may be today, it may be next week or it may be in 7 years’ time, but it will stop working. That is scientific fact.

It is also Finagle’s Law of Dynamic Negatives that tells us when it does go wrong, it will be at the worst possible time…

So knowing these two facts, what can you do to reduce the risk to your micro business when the inevitable happens?

Well read on and find out because in this post I’ll outline some quick, easy and practical things you can do to be more prepared than most.

In fact I’d recommend you spend 5 minutes reading and thinking about this article, then at the end I’ve set out 3 very simple steps to put you ahead of the game…

Disaster recovery

The industry term we use is ‘Disaster Recovery’.

Larger organisations usually have huge, complicated plans for what to do (incidentally I know there are a significant number that don’t have any!) and as a micro business it can seem quite daunting to even think about creating such plans. But there are lots of small, simple things you can do now to make your life much easier, and get your business back on its feet much quicker should the worse happen. So what I’ve done is set out 3 practical things you can do to help identify the small simple things appropriate to you… you should then discuss these with your Local IT expert (or my details are at the bottom)…

1.  Think

Probably the most underrated Skill in business. It’s true, it is such an underrated activity… but do make sure you have a purpose or agenda… spending a bit of time thinking about worst case scenarios now, will help you more in the future should anything go wrong, and also helps you make more informed decisions along the way.

I find it helps to think about the worst case, and that will inevitably cover the stages in-between. For example, if your office caught fire and burnt to the ground, with everything, including your laptop in it, then you’ll need to get a new laptop right? Well the same would be true if your car got stolen with your laptop in it… take a tip from Donald Trump, and think big!

Some of the things we’ve come across in the past include:

  • Someone’s shed being burgled, laptop and backup hard drive stolen
  • Car stolen with laptop in it
  • Major gas leak, road shut, can’t access office
  • 12 hours power outage – no power to office or servers for a whole day.
  • Being snowed in, can’t get to the office

Just spending a bit of time thinking about what could go wrong, and the kinds of things you could do to help put them right will really help you if anything does go wrong.

2.  Plan

Every time you fly they give you the repetitive safety briefing. For me the most meaningful part is when they ask you to “take a moment to look at where you nearest emergency exits are”. Do you actually do that?

I know, however unlikely we are to need to use those emergency exits, that if we do, then I want to be up and towards that exit as fast as I can. If I’ve got to stand up and look around first that’s crucial moments I’m losing, and it could just cost me my life. I’m not some kind of doom and gloom nut, but I do believe in giving myself an advantage.

The same thing applies for your business disaster recovery plans. Would you rather be looking round and wondering which way to go after something has gone wrong?

That’s why after you’ve done some good thinking, it’s a really smart idea to spend a little bit of time planning for what to do in those circumstances. For instance:

  • If you’re office is out of action (Fire, Flood, Gas Leak):
    • Where else could you work from? Perhaps talk to a Local Hotel about their conference facilities and discussing what they could offer if anything did go wrong? Or perhaps you have a client who has lots of space in their own offices? What about simply getting a car charger for your laptop and phone?
    • Do you need to divert your phones?
    • What about putting an emergency notice on your website? Who would do that when you have no internet?
    • If your computer was lost or stolen:
      • Where and how quickly could you get a replacement? Temporarily? Permanently?
      • Is all your data backed up? How do you restore it? Who can help?
      • If you’ve got no power or no internet for a sustained period:
        •  Where can you go? Coffee shop, home, someone else’s home / office?
        • If you’ve got staff how and where can they work?

The important thing to remember here, is you are not trying to cater for every single detail. You just want to give yourself a competitive advantage. Make a note of the key things, know the key steps that you need to take in any given scenario… and don’t try to do it all at once. Instead just focus on one or two points, set yourself a definite time frame (15-30 minutes, that’s all!) do what you can in that time and then move on.

3.  Review

This is the bit that most people seem to struggle with most. I’m going to let you in to a little secret her., It’s the one really key bit of information that most people don’t consciously realise…



Whether it be your own circumstances (you change your computer, move offices, change suppliers, New clients), other peoples circumstances (A business shuts/moves, a road’s closed, a supplier doesn’t carry stock of a particular item anymore), or you and your own knowledge, experience and priorities.

How many times have you done something and thought, If I’d known what I know now at the start, I’d have done that so differently…

That’s why after you’ve done all the work thinking and planning, you should do it all again, regularly, I find it easiest to actually book an appointment with myself to do it. Just remember to keep some sense of perspective, spending hours on it each week is not, generally, productive, but setting aside 1 hour a month or a quarter may just be worth the investment?

What do do?

Expect the best. Prepare for the worst. Capitalize on what comes” – Zig Ziglar

1.  Think

  • Just spend 15 minutes thinking about what you would need to take care of if something went DRASTICALLY wrong (pick one or two of the ideas above if you need to)
  • Make a note of these things and call the file ‘Disaster Recovery Plans’

2.  Plan

  • Review the list you’ve just made, pick two of the points (any, don’t waste time wondering which ones!) and for the next 15 minutes make some notes about what you could do about them

3.  Review

This is the hardest bit and where most people fail!

  • Book a time in your diary for 1 months’ time to read this article again and re-do the action points (including this one!) … in a few months’ time you should have covered most of the points on your list

Remember: This is the hardest bit and where most people fail, it’s easy to book the appointment; it’s harder to keep it!

P.S. Most accountants will tell you most small business do NOT recover from a significant disaster… don’t be one of them!

micro business actionToday’s Micro Action

Take 15 minutes to figure out your IT disaster plan for 2013.

Chris Blunt

Chris has a passion for all things IT and a hatred of the ‘Computer Says No’ mentality of many so called IT experts that just seek to control everything you do. Chris has founded his IT businesses on the principal that IT is just another tool for the business, that it should be helping the business to get stuff done more effectively and more efficiently. If it’s not, you really need to question what it’s doing there! If you are serious about putting your computer to work for your business and tired of being told you can’t do it that way, then you should have a chat with Chris, chances are he can help you!

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  1. Hi Chris

    Very good article. Having had 2 crushes in the last 3 months, I am very much aware of the risk and damage to a business when you have a computer failure. In both cases I had backup plans and the damage was not too severe, but even a one or two day disruption to your activities can be a major problem if you have deadlines to meet.

    Giuseppe Colombi recently posted..Why Change Your Accountant?My Profile

    • Hi Giueseppe,

      Thanks for your comment, 2 crashes (I’m assuming crushes was a typo 😉 ) is very unlucky, but it’s a very good example of why it’s so important when you do recover 1st time round not to put off checking and updating your plans – Well done! … Glad you had your backup plans – and they worked!

      Chris Blunt recently posted..Knowledgeable about business IT requirementsMy Profile

  2. This is one of those really important tasks that gets on my Procrastination List. The list has what does need to get done, and is ideal for when you are avoiding doing something else. All that avoiding energy goes wonderfully with thinking what could go wrong and then planning for it.

    The house burning to the ground/evacuation is why cloud AND physical back up is a great idea. I do look forward to the day when someone makes it easy though.
    Rosie Slosek recently posted..3 Reasons Tax Returns Belong With CakeMy Profile

    • Hi Rosie,

      Thanks for your comment, that’s a really neat idea having a ‘procrastination list’ I’ll have to give that a go!

      Yes, it is important that taking backups is easy, if it’s not it just put’s you off taking them! A decent remote backup service should ‘just work’ – the good ones run in the background, backing up every file as you make changes, meaning there is no long wait for loads of files to update… we’ve even got some of our clients using a combined backup solution that does both for them, remote backups throughout the day and scheduled physical backups overnight…

      If you need help making IT easy give me a shout!

      Thanks, Chris.
      Chris Blunt recently posted..Knowledgeable about business IT requirementsMy Profile

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