No matter how carefully you run your online business, sometimes stuff goes wrong. An important account gets deleted or suspended, a prime source of income vanishes, your rankings in the search engines go poof. It’s just not possible to control all the things that can go wrong with your business when there’s so much out of your personal control. What’s your backup plan?

The Easy Stuff

While not entirely painless, backing up your business data is the easy part. You should always have backups of everything on your site made regularly and in your control. There are WordPress plugins you can use for your WordPress sites, and it’s not too hard to export a backup of any MySQL database if you have access to phpMyAdmin. If you do this regularly, you’ll be prepared if something goes wrong with your hosting.

Backups are something you should make for any hosted service you use – your autoresponder, your websites, GMail or other online email services you use, anything where you have the power to back up the data, you should.

But don’t just backup your data at home. It’s smart to use an online backup service such as Mozy to ensure that you’ll have access to your data if something goes wrong with your computer at home. Computers don’t last forever, they get viruses, a natural disaster strikes… stuff happens. An online backup can save you the loss of a lot of data.

Protecting Your Income

Protecting your income is much more difficult, but just as necessary. It’s why they say to not put all your eggs in one basket, although until you know how to make your business work you may need to stick to one basket. You need to have alternatives ready.

Just look at how easy some online income sources are to lose. People get banned from AdSense. Amazon drops affiliates due to tax laws being passed in your state. A merchant goes out of business. Paypal suspends your account for no reason you can understand. Suddenly you’re scrambling to make up income that seemed secure so long as your site had traffic. The traffic hasn’t vanished, but the income source goes away.

You should always know your income alternatives. Where else can you earn money in your niche and how can the money be sent to you? Can you talk to someone and get your account back?

Protecting Your Traffic

Your typical online business isn’t much without traffic to your website. Kind of hard to make a living with out traffic, yet so many sources aren’t entirely within your control. Try as you might, there’s only so much you can do about search engine rankings, and other forms of online marketing also rely on other sites you use to promote your own.

So what happens when you lose that Twitter account with all the followers, or that YouTube, Facebook or forum account? What if you get banned from your favorite pay per click search engine? What if you lose your search engine rankings?

When accounts are banned or suspended, sometimes you can talk to someone and get the account back, other times you’re just out of luck. You’ll have to make up that traffic someplace else.

Your traffic may well be one of the hardest parts of your online business to protect, making it the most important to have a wide range of sources for it. You don’t want to lose more of your income than necessary just because something goes wrong with one traffic source. You want multiple sources, and the more that drive significant traffic, the better.

Any time you permanently lose a valuable source, it’s important to look at it as a challenge. How can you not only make it up, but make it better? There are always alternatives, better and worse; you have to figure them out.

Obey the TOS and You’ll Mostly Be Okay

For the most part, you aren’t going to have a problem if you obey the Terms of Service for the various providers you rely upon in your online business. Follow the rules and you usually won’t have a problem. But once in a while the rules will change or a business will go under, and you’ll find yourself in trouble. It’s better to be prepared as best you may for contingencies.

Have you taken steps to protect your business? What’s your backup plan?