In a perfect world, everything would run smoothly all the time. But we don’t live in a perfect world, and things do go wrong, even if only occasionally. Qantas Airlines, along with the Brisbane, Bairns and Bundaberg airports discovered that the hard way on 25 August 2012 when a Telstra blackout disrupted voice and data communications for Qantas and delayed flights.

Though brief, the blackout slowed business by forcing passengers to use manual check-in procedures rather than the usual automated kind. One domestic flight was delayed for 90 minutes, while an international flight, going from Brisbane to Dallas via Santiago, Chile, departed two hours later than scheduled.

The cause of the blackout remains unknown, but Telstra spokeswoman Jane de Gault told the Sydney Morning Herald, “It could have been [that] a third party has cut a cable. We’re not quite sure why; I would say that it’s something to that effect because it does happen so rarely.”

What would happen if a blackout occurred during your business day? Would you already have a plan in place for not only fixing the problem as quickly as possible but also maintaining business as usual?

What would have happened if there had been no way for passengers to check-in manually at the airports during the Telstra blackout? What would happen to your business if because you lack a business continuity plan, your clients couldn’t contact you, or your employees couldn’t do their jobs?

One thing that would happen is your clients would lose confidence in you and your ability to serve their needs. That often leads to loss of business, and word of mouth could hinder your ability to attract and land new business, too.

Don’t wait until something goes wrong before you start thinking about what you would do if a power outage disrupted your daily business. Start taking steps now to ensure that no matter what happens, your business can continue functioning.

Make sure that important company files and applications are backed up, stored in a secure location and can be recovered and used at a moment’s notice. Make sure that your employees have remote access to the files and applications they need should a flood or earthquake or some other disaster prevent them from being able to come into the office. Make sure everyone knows what to do if disaster should strike while you’re all in the office together.

If you want to ensure that your business succeeds even in the wake of disaster, follow the Boy Scouts of America’s motto:  Be prepared.