We have so much to do and think about to remain competitive. To help us stay in the game, we use computers as the foundation of our business. We rely on them on a daily basis, and we don’t think about what will happen if we lose our data. But what would happen if all our data disappeared?
Ponder this scenario. It’s Wednesday, late afternoon. You’ve focused on an essential project for weeks. The whole-house remodeling project will double what you’ve earned this year. Suddenly, the sky lights up, and you hear a crackle followed by a loud boom-rumble that shakes your house. The lights flicker, and everything, including your monitor, goes black.
You fumble in the darkness to reboot your computer. You push a button and hold it for five seconds. Nothing happens. The house lights flicker back on. You press the same button again, and a notice pops up on your monitor. You don’t understand the message because “Geek” isn’t your native language.
Your hands are quivering, and your mind races as you find your cell phone. You scroll and click on “computer help” for a repairman who’s worked on your computer in the past. “Uh, hello, Steve. I’ve got a problem.” You explain what happened and read the message to him. His reply melts your heart into your shoes. “It sounds like the hard drive got fried with a power surge. Do you have a backup of your work?”
You don’t have a backup. Steve has recommended this several times in the past four years, but you have yet to do it. You realize you’ve created a disaster and feel stupid for losing everything. Unfortunately, you are not alone, as many entrepreneurs have also neglected to take this essential step.
Your mind shifts into the “what now?” disaster mode. Steve confirms that there’s no way to recover information from your computer. It’s gone forever. The only solution is to replace the hard drive with a new one. Then he has to reload all your software, everything you need, including your CAD program. Because you’re not tech-
savvy, you’re happy for Steve to do this.
He says it will take at least three days to prepare your computer. Then, you’ll have to recreate everything for your clients. Your mind is spinning, thinking of all the work that lies ahead.
There is no way you can hide this debacle from your clients. Your mind goes into disaster overload. Your clients could fire you and threaten a lawsuit. And they could demand a refund of everything they’ve paid. They could expect you to resurrect everything at no charge. In a few minutes, you’ve descended into a spiral about losing your reputation and assets.
You decide to call them when they get home from work. You deliver your computer and software to Steve and get a written estimate. He will charge $710 to replace the hard drive and install your software. He’ll provide a portable backup hard drive for $150 more.
It’s 5:30 p.m. when you leave Steve’s shop and stop by your clients’ home instead of calling. You understand the importance of reading posture and facial expressions during face-to-face meetings. You take three cleansing breaths before walking to their front door. The husband is surprised to see you and invites you in and asks his wife to join the conversation.
You explain what happened with your computer and apologize for the delays that the problem will cause. “I want to make this right for you, whatever it takes.”
They ask many questions about how long you need to recreate their plans and how much you’ll have to charge them. The husband asks if you’re willing to put other clients on hold. You wait several seconds before answering while you observe their demeanor. They’re sitting on a sofa next to each other, holding hands.
Then you say, “I’ve given this much thought since this morning and gone through many scenarios. Here’s what I’m offering to maintain our working relationship and finish your plans as soon as possible. I aim to help you achieve what you want without creating a financial burden. I’ll send you a written proposal for the work.”
Your proposal offers to finish their plans in three weeks from the day of their decision. The fee for the extra work will include an 80% discount. You promise to give them daily updates. You confirm that you’ve contacted all other clients and asked to delay their projects.
Analyzing the Outcome
Fortunately, everything works out for everyone. You finish the plans, and your clients are happy. You have yet to lose any prospective clients. And, this unfortunate experience has taught you the importance of backing up your computer every single night, no excuses.
You’ve calculated that lost income will total over $17,000. The repair, software installation and new backup hard drive is a legitimate business expense. It’s been an expensive learning experience about running an effective professional design business.
You tell everyone you know about backing up their information daily. You’ve written a blog and articles about the five reasons for a backup:
- It prevents a disaster;
- It saves time and money because the only things lost will be from the time of the backup to the time of the disaster;
- It allows for recovery of data from the backup if you delete anything;
- It provides secure feelings.
And there’s a fifth reason:
When wildfires happened in Oregon in 2021 where my business is located, we had to evacuate and move to a hotel for five nights. My husband unplugged the backup hard drive before we left. I could continue working from the hotel, saving my work as if life depended on it.
Personal Backup Plans
In addition to backing up your computer, there are other types of backup plans you should be considering, including a personal one. Few of us consider alternative career paths, even during the worst times. But things happen. Recent disasters in Maui and other places have taught us that our business can disappear quickly. What about accidents and illness? How can we prepare for these life-changing disasters?
I chose this profession because I’m a creative problem solver and love using beautiful, unique features to help homeowners achieve their design dreams. In my business, I use my talents, learned skills and experience. It’s difficult to consider giving up what I’ve done for over 39 years and change direction, but a recent health issue has me at a crossroads. Maintaining my self-
confidence and self-esteem while coping with acute myeloid leukemia has been challenging, and maintaining my business is a question I’m still working on. My backup plan? Stay tuned. ▪
Diane Plesset, CMKBD, CAPS, NCIDQ is the principal of D.P. Design in Oregon City, OR and has over 35 years of experience as a kitchen and bath designer. She is the author of the award-winning book, THE Survival Guide: Home Remodeling, and is the recipient of numerous design awards. Named a 2019 KBDN Innovator, Plesset has taught Western design to students of the Machida Academy in Japan and has a podcast, “Today’s Home.”