You wake up one morning only to find your business, your passion, your life’s hard work now a smoldering ruin or buried under flood water. This isn’t a nightmare or a Hollywood film. It’s a reality for thousands of small businesses every year.
A natural disaster can often catch small business off-guard and can place huge burdens on the monetary resources of the communities in which they occur. In fact, it’s estimated that 25 percent of companies are unable to resume operations after a major disaster, according to HP and Score. Business owners have a tendency to think that a disaster isn’t going to happen “where I live.” The truth is, however, storms, floods, earthquakes, fires and man-made disasters can strike anytime and anywhere.
Planning ahead for your own post-disaster recovery is a good step towards protecting your family, your business and your community.
How quickly a company is able to recover after a disaster usually determines how successful it in the future. Sufficient planning creates trust among your clients and will allow your business to continue without too many damaging effects.
Here are five ways small businesses can prepare for a natural disaster:
Invest in an Appropriate Insurance
There are a variety of insurance policies you should consider to ensure your company is fully covered during a disaster. Property insurance, for instance, covers damage incurred to company property, such as buildings, costly equipment, computers and company documents. You can even customize your policy to include coverage for certain damages, such as flood and earthquakes, which are usually not included in standard policies. That’s why getting the right insurance is vital.
Business interruption coverage is perhaps one of the most important coverages a business owner can add to their insurance package. The coverage is designed to reimburse lost income that might have been generated during a time of interruption of business that follows damage to insured property. Just make sure to speak with your insurance specialist to help identify the most appropriate solutions for your business.
Backup All Your Electronic Data
There is absolutely no way to tell when a disaster is going to strike, and with business transactions conducted electronically, it’s important to have your files and data backed-up. A company may not be able to re-establish itself without important financial and client database.
That being said, organizations must be in a position to quickly identify the exposure of their data.
It’s best to save at least two copies of all your files – including the last seven years of taxes – and store one in a waterproof container somewhere around the office, and the other off-site. Anything that you are currently working on should, in fact, be mailed to yourself on a Web service that can be accessed from any computer.
Create a Survival Kit
Being prepared means that you’re equipped with the proper supplies you need in case of an emergency. Every business in operation should have multiple survival kits prepared with disaster-ready items, such as flashlights with extra batteries, plastic sheeting, garbage bags, etc. Also, consider storing digital cameras as well to take photos of the property damage for your insurance company.
Develop a Disaster Plan
It’s really important to develop a disaster plan before a potential crisis occurs. Plans to address any of these scenarios should, at the very least, include provisions for:
- Deciding who will be in charge of notifying employees of the disaster and which methods of contact will be used during that time.
- Seeing if there is a backup office arrangement anywhere, in case the building cannot be inhabited.
- Educating your employees on the evacuation plan.
- Preparing the office to the best of your abilities. In other words, forward all calls from the desk phone to a mobile phone. Ensure that all equipment is in a secure location within the office, and, if possible, remove any devices from areas near windows. It’s also important to make sure all electronics are unplugged.
- Investing in a software that will backup sensitive documentation that may be lost or damaged during a disaster strike.
- Determining how customers will be notified about any potential delays in deliveries, and who will be the point of contact for client communication.
Preparing for a disaster is not something to be left until the day when a tornado hits or a devastating earthquake strikes. By maintaining regularly-updated procedures to prepare the business for both the disaster and the aftermath, management can ensure that the company is prepared to survive and thrive in the post-disaster period.
Thanks for taking time to read this article! Did I miss anything? What are some other ways companies can make sure they’re ready for a disaster? Feel free to leave a comment below.