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A startup typically comes to market with unique and innovative concepts that creatively solve a problem for consumers. The first major step in building a startup is investing time, energy and money in your business plan. Even with clever ideas, startups can’t take off without an abundance of resources to get the ball rolling. New businesses need to start with strong foundations to grow and achieve success in today’s competitive market. Good planning and smart decision making is a great start. Funding, resources and creativity help to develop startups into established companies. Effective planning will consider all possibilities that could be thrown your way. Regardless of all of your hard work and terrific ideas, unforeseen circumstances and various forms of costly downtime can demolish any business in seconds. For startups and established companies alike, it is important for business owners to consider and proactively prepare for unexpected costly downtime that could arrive in the form of high temperature or humidity, fire, smoke, power loss, water damage and more. Downtime can include anything from a burst water pipe to a power outage to smoke damage from malfunctioning equipment.

The biggest mistake entrepreneurs make is thinking “It will never happen to me.” Twenty percent of businesses will experience costly downtime (cyber security incident, fire, flood, power outage, natural disaster, etc.) in any given year, and 80 percent of those businesses will go under in just over a year, according to the Bureau of Labor. Furthermore, even without extenuating circumstances or problems, 25 percent of startup businesses fail in just one year! Thinking costly downtime will never happen to you is just ensuring you are never prepared for the inevitable. These statistics are why it is vital to reduce all forms of unpredictability. Learn to expect the unexpected situations that you always thought would never happen to you… because there is a good chance they probably will. There are many outside elements that can negatively impact your business, most of which you likely have never considered before. It is in your best interest to do your research and manage everything that is within your control.

According to a recent survey done by The Ponemon Institute, the average downtime incident across industries costs a company $5,600 per minute and the average reported incident length was 90 minutes, resulting in an average cost per incident of approximately $505,500. For a total data center outage, which had an average recovery time of 134 minutes, average costs were approximately $680,000.

One of the smartest decisions you can make as a business owner is to develop a business continuity plan so you can maintain business functions, or resume them as soon as possible, if your business suffers from a major disruption. A business continuity plan should both outline steps your organization needs to take to get back to full functionality as soon as possible, while also putting services in place to help warn of the onset of potential downtime. Business continuity equips your startup with a necessary tool: how to handle the unexpected.

Regardless of the size of your startup, downtime costs your business valuable resources and opportunities. Downtime also drastically increases the possibility of going out of business. Business continuity protects your assets and reduces the likelihood and extent of catastrophes. Without it, your business is at a major disadvantage. Many organizations ignore business continuity because they think that they’re not “big enough” to require it. Whether you have five or 5,000 employees, business continuity plans minimize risk.

One particularly costly form of downtime is unexpected changes in your environment. This can involve temperature, humidity, flooding, smoke, unexpected room entry, power loss and more. If the conditions in your environment are not being monitored, drastic changes in your facilities can unfold without you knowing. This can cost you thousands of dollars in lost resources, productivity, and repairs. The best way to reduce downtime due to power outages, broken HVAC units, water leaks and more is through environment monitoring. Environment monitoring gives you proactive notification of potential changes in your environment.

Proactive environment monitoring protects what you already have and keeps you updated on the environment conditions of your business before disaster strikes. Imagine a pipe burst in your facilities at 2 a.m. Unless you have staff on-site 24×7, you wouldn’t know about the leak until you arrive on-site the next morning after the water has been flooding into your facility for a few hours. If your facility is protected with proactive environment monitoring, you will receive a notification as soon as the leak is detected and you can tackle that small water leak before it leads to flooding and potential mold damage. Proactive environment monitoring is a crucial tool to invest in for all sized businesses, especially startups.

Proactive environment monitoring can also be used to further your cybersecurity and minimize the risk and extent of data loss. Did you know that 30 percent of all data loss and IT downtime is caused by environment factors? This can be high temperatures from HVAC failure, flooding from extreme weather, or hard drive crashes from unexpected power outages. Many businesses correctly assume that cyber security is a critical component of their business continuity plan and protect against hacking and data loss with firewalls and security software along with training employees on best practices. Server failure caused by high temperatures or equipment loss due to water leak damage are just as important, however, when it comes to ensuring data security and the ability of your startup to continue operations when faced with potential data loss incidents.

Your organization can also use proactive environment monitoring as a preventative measure against severe weather, which will inevitably pose a threat regardless of where you are located. Severe weather can be connected to hurricane season, extreme winter or summer conditions, and so much more. Flood monitoring, power monitoring, and more will protect your startup from various environmental situations such as power outages and flood damage that can occur during extreme weather situations. Proactive environment monitoring will protect your startup and reduce costly downtime due to storms, leaky roofs from heavy rainfall, heatwaves and all other kinds of extreme weather conditions.

In some extreme cases, even warnings from an environment monitoring solution won’t be able to prevent downtime or damage from occurring. However, notifications when these extreme events begin occurring, along with historical environment data, can help you identify when extreme environment conditions began to impact your organization. This will help you develop recovery steps and enact them much faster, allowing you to triage the situation and hopefully keep damage and revenue loss to an absolute minimum.

Outside of obvious reasons, environment monitoring can also be helpful when you are short-staffed, which is likely to occur as a startup or relatively smaller establishment. If you manage remote locations that are unstaffed, environment concerns are amplified due to the added time required to travel to the site. Problems related to small water leaks or poor airflow can easily go unnoticed until it’s too late.

Proactive environment monitoring strengthens all disaster recovery and business continuity plans in regard to data loss, data security, employee safety and wellness, employee continuity, inventory loss, facility protection, and offsite contingency planning. Startups need disaster recovery and business continuity because preparing for the unknown helps ensure long-term viability and success.

You can also monitor the changes in your facilities to ensure they are at ideal conditions for your employees. Keeping an eye on factors such as dew point and heat index (the “feels like” temperature within your facilities) not only keeps your employees healthy, it also helps avoid cognitive issues that arise with higher temperatures. Employee health and safety is important regardless of how many you have because even just one major incident can put you out of business. Make the smart choice of proactively monitoring your environment and steer clear of these avoidable setbacks.

Some startups operate within industries that are tightly regulated at a federal level, such as restaurants, bio/medical facilities and more. Startups in those spaces often have to provide proof of environment conditions to appease regulations; food storage temperatures as well as lab environments quickly come to mind. Environment monitoring often provides the ability to track and store historical data that not only allows you to take proactive actions if environment trends point to potentially failing equipment, you can also provide that data to prove your startup is maintaining a safe and compliant environment for food, medication, or samples that you are storing.

Often, real-time data from your environment monitoring is available from any internet-accessible device so you can see the conditions of your facilities at any time and from anywhere. Also, adding environment monitoring is generally affordable and easy to install. Depending on the size of your business, you may only need one monitor and a few targeted sensors. Don’t wait until downtime has already cost you. The key is prevention and awareness with environmental monitoring. Keep your startup competitive and efficient with a fully defined business continuity plan. Almost every building has smoke and fire alarms to prevent fires, so it makes sense for your facilities to expand on that with environment monitoring to protect against other potential causes of downtime and damage.

Proactive environment monitoring is usually very affordable because depending on the size of your startup, you may only need a few monitors and sensors to experience all-encompassing protection from all forms of unexpected downtime. Proactive environment monitoring is a smart investment of your money because it essentially pays for itself after just one incident that saves you from costly downtime. A properly installed and maintained environment monitoring platform will provide you with additional security and peace of mind for years to come.

Thirty percent of downtime incidents are caused by environmental factors. Don’t let your new business fall into this statistic. Invest now! Proactive monitoring means peace of mind and protection against potential threats, leading to increased productivity and revenue that help guarantee longevity for your business.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Richard Grundy

Richard Grundy joined AVTECH in 2001 as product development manager and rose through several engineering and management roles, becoming president and COO in December 2015. He manages day to day operations of the business, including product engineering, manufacturing, supply chain and executing the strategic plan. Grundy graduated summa cum laude from the computer science program at Wentworth Institute of Technology, with additional concentrations in mechanical and electrical engineering. He currently serves on the board of directors for the Wentworth Alumni Association and was recognized as one of the Rhode Island 40 Under Forty Business Leaders in 2019.

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