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Last Update: Saturday September 18, 2021

Key Idea: Think of Data As Cold Hard Cash

Visit with Vicky Carlson, owner of Office Pavilion in San Diego, and Brian Jacobsen of Madison Park Greeting of Seattle.  They both have a data protection plan in place so they never have to wonder "What would happen if I lost this data?" 

Key Question:


Duplicate Data Daily!  Just do it.

We don't do business the way we used to, so it makes sense that our old ways of protecting our assets are no longer appropriate. Computer use has crept into every nook and cranny of our businesses and technology advances each year bring better products at lower costs to the small business market segment. Smart business owners take advantage of these advances by using technology, as Bill Gates says in his book, Business @ the Speed of Thought, “to reinvent the way they work”. Important documents, formerly available in triplicate in your office, are now stored only in electronic form.

Q:  As our businesses become more and more dependent on technology, how do we ensure that the security we have provided is adequate?

A:  As we learned from Hector Barreto, Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration, 90% of the disaster relief relating to 9/11 went to small businesses and 10% went to homeowners. As your business becomes more dependent on technology, it becomes more critical to have a disaster recovery plan in case of a natural or man-made disaster. The purpose of the plan is to ensure that your business recovers from the disaster and is able to continue. The plan should include the actions that need to be taken to restore operations to their pre-disaster level, by whom, and in what timeframe. As you draft the plan, you can evaluate your need for business interruption insurance. A critical component of any disaster recovery plan for a business dependent on technology is the plan for restoring the lost or corrupted information of the business. This includes back-up procedures, off-site storage, and a plan for restoring the data. The more quickly this is accomplished, the sooner you can return to "business as usual."

Information is a real asset. It is part of the learning continuum, where data evolves to information which evolves to knowledge, and ultimately, wisdom. The learning continuum has been around a lot longer than computers but computers have greatly enhanced our data processing ability and thereby empowered us to move faster, deeper, and farther along the continuum.

Q: If you arrived in the office one morning and all your cash or all your information were gone, which would be the more devastating to your business? Which do you protect better, your cash or your information?

A: Most of us have strong controls over cash. We limit the authorized signers on checks, take advantage of positive pay products offered by our banks, lock up check stock and reconcile our bank accounts. We need to safeguard the information of our business. Our records are at risk from natural disasters, virus attack, or computer malfunction. Hard drives do go out; data can be corrupted or lost. We need to be mindful of the enormous value of our information and take the necessary steps to safeguard it with the same motivation that we safeguard our cash and tangible property.

Think about it

Do you have a disaster recovery plan for your business?
What would be the effect on your business if you lost your information?

Clip from: Protect Your Priceless Data - Understand Security

Meet Art Wong of Symantec, data security guru

Silicon Valley, Seattle, San Diego:  One of the biggest problems in small business today is that we under-estimate the value of our data and we have trouble believing anything can happen to those computers - until it does. And, it will. Issues that face each of us range from viruses to automated internet attacks to outright theft and natural disasters. The cost of these issues in lost information and lost time sometimes is the business itself. Most of us know we need to take a few steps to secure our data but simply do not know where to start.  This episode of the show is our 1-2-3. Please, have somebody in your business become an expert. If you are a sole proprietor, you'll just have to do it!

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Office Pavilion, Inc.

Vicky Carlson, CEO, President

6920 Carroll Road
San Diego, CA 92121

Visit our web site:

Office: 8587845200

Business Classification:
Office furnishings

Year Founded: 1980

Think of Data As Cold Hard Cash

HATTIE: But first let's look at securing our data from natural disasters.

VICKY CARLSON: We have always backed up our systems. During the fires I thought, wow, it's been awhile since I've been in touch with the actual details of what happens with our system. I called our VP of operations and I said, "Ron, do we have our tape? I know we back up, but do we have it secure? Do I need to go to the office and get it?" He said, no, it's our policy to remove that tape every night. I didn't want my place to burn down but if it did, at least I could recreate my customer orders. It would be devastating if I couldn't.

HATTIE: How many years ago did you start taking the tape home every night?

BRIAN JACOBSEN: It's been about 10 years. 10 years every night? Yeah.

HATTIE: Mr. Discipline.

BRIAN: And, we check the backups to make sure they are good backups every night.

HATTIE: (voiceover) Brian Jacobsen and Glen Bieley of Seattle-based Madison Park Greeting and Vicky Carlson, owner of San Diego's Office Pavilion, never leave the valuable data stored in their computers to chance.

VICKY: Office Pavilion is an office furniture dealership. That's a little word for a lot of things. We have space planners who will go in and work with the customers to lay out the space do programming to understand how they work, what kind of environment they have so that we can create a solution of products to fit within their environment -- their space--- that works with their culture.

GLEN BIELEY: Our niche is selling high end products to fine independent stores. We do that both through our own product line, Madison Park Greetings and through our strategic partnerships with other publishers in the industry that previously ran their own companies and now have folded their operations into our headquarters here in Seattle. We run those companies under their own brands and they keep the creative control.

HATTIE: Do you remember when this company did not have a computer?

BRIAN: I remember my mother doing invoices at home by hand after dinner and sending them out and having a little card file for people who had paid and for people who had not paid.

GLEN: And that is something we talk about a lot. Technology. Five six seven years ago we said let's make sure that we would continue to invest in that pretty aggressively so we keep upgrading our systems.

VICKY: When we first started on the computers it was a revolution in our industry to help streamline our processes and start cutting the time down. We thought, oh my, we never want to go back to tallying up the parts and pieces. That brings you to the question: How safe are these computers? Pretty new for us. You know, how safe is the data?

HATTIE: (voiceover) Ron Busch is Vicky's VP of operations.

RON BUSCH: We have a series of redundant backups. We take the most current Friday tape and the most current Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday tape home with us off site so that if anything should happen to the facility we have two tapes that are fairly current data sources off site. Twice a week-- our Monday morning and Wednesday morning -- we physically look at the data from the night before that was backup from the tape. We'll find a file that is dated from those two days. We'll find that file and actually restore it and open it and make sure we can read it so that we know we're not getting false positives. When we go to put a tape back in the system to restore from that tape we know there is data there that's accurate.

HATTIE: (voiceover) To keep computing systems humming at Madison Park Greeting, Brian and Glen hired Tracy Amour full time after he had worked for them for years on a contract basis.

TRACY ARMOUR: I think you have to prepare for the worst case scenario at all times. Your data is one of the most important assets in your business. You have to ask yourself the question, what would happen if I lost this data? The network has grown quite a bit. We've added two firewalls to protect the data on our network from the outside world. We're still implementing a tape backup process which has grown more complex. We have two backup drives.

HATTIE: Are you the one that does it?

TRACY: I do, everyday. We backup the servers everyday.

HATTIE: Where do you take the tape? We use a rotation strategy. There are always three copies of the data off site. I keep one at home, Brian keeps one at his house and we also have one at another secure location.

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