On 23 May 2014 an historic homestead in Central Otago was burnt to the ground, apparently due to an electrical fault following a lightning strike. The homestead was at Paradise, beyond Queenstown, beyond Glenorchy, beyond the top of Lake Wakatipu, . It’s a fantastic place and lots of people go there to get away from it all. No mobile coverage, no tech toys. Just nature at its best amongst the mountains.
Paradise has been run by a trust since the owner David Miller died in the late 1990s. The homestead had recently been restored and was a magnificent example of a 120 year old grand house. It had wonderful historic photos and paintings depicting its history and was the biggest income earner on the property. Now it has gone.
There a several cottages spread around the Paradise property with varying levels of comfort – most without electricity. This is all part of the experience at Paradise. While these cottages are popular, they don’t bring in enough income to cover operating costs.
Why am I telling you about this? To me there are two business lessons from this sad event.
- The first is that a fire or other unexpected event can destroy or seriously damage your business records and your ability to carry on in business
- The second lesson is how you keep paying your day-to-day operating costs when your main source of income is lost.
Now think about your business. Where are your business records? Stored in boxes in a store room? Stored in a computer on the premises?
How would your income be affected if your business premises burnt down? How would you recover your records? Do you know what records you actually need to continue in business?
Even though it’s unlikely that your business premises will burn down or get completely flooded or get damaged by an earthquake, these events are not unknown in New Zealand. Think Christchurch, think Paradise, think 100 year floods over recent years.
I suggest you give it some thought if you want your business to survive any one of these types of disasters, should they strike near you.
And if you want some help to decide what to do about your records, well, I guess by now, you know who to ask.