Just under half of small-to-medium businesses (SMBs) have no disaster plan in place despite a typical company having six outages a year.

According to Symantec's SMB disaster preparedness survey that surveyed more than 1,840 businesses from 23 countries globally, SMBs are not making disaster preparedness a priority until they experience a disaster or data loss, while downtime not only costs SMBs several thousands of pounds but affects customer loyalty.

It found that half of the respondents do not have a plan in place, 41 per cent said that it had never occurred to them to put together a plan and 40 per cent said that disaster preparedness is not a priority for them.

The research concluded that 65 per cent of respondents live in regions susceptible to natural disasters and in the past 12 months, the typical SMB experienced six outages, with the leading causes being cyber attacks, power outages or natural disasters. However the findings found that 36 per cent of SMBs intend to create a disaster preparedness plan in the future.

Ross Walker, director of distribution and SMB for UK and Ireland at Symantec, said: “According to the research findings, SMBs still have not recognised the tremendous impact a disaster can have on their businesses.  Despite warnings, it seems like many still think it can't happen to them.

“Disasters happen and SMBs cannot afford to risk losing their information or their customers' critical information. Simple planning can enable SMBs to protect their information in the event of a disaster, which in turn will help them build trust with their customers.”

Phil Orford, chief executive of the Forum of Private Business, said: “In business, being prepared is the key to success. That means establishing processes that work repeatedly and including putting in place contingency plans to guard against disasters such as information loss. The cost of losing data belonging to your company or customers can be very damaging.”