Business owners need to develop emergency/disaster plans for their businesses. Recovery times from natural disaster or man-made disasters are about the same, so whether your business experiences an electrical fire, wildfire, vehicle crashing through the window, flooding, tornado or hurricane damage, you need to consider all those possibilities BEFORE a disaster hits if you don’t want to lose your business.
Small business owners frequently don’t have their own financial resources to recover from disaster, and seldom have created a disaster plan to include preparation for financial loss (insurance), or things like employee loss or employees’ inability to come to work, even if your business itself is open. If half your city is under water or without electricity, or your employees become homeless during a tornado, it will affect your business even if the office or storefront itself is completely untouched. And what happens if the disaster isn’t your disaster, but one experienced by a supplier that you depend on for your inventory?
If a customer should ask you, “What assurances do I have that you’ll be able to honor this contract in case of disaster?” don’t be caught off guard. Get prepared with answers that will help put them and you at ease. Think – “What if?” and consider every possible disaster and result; then work up your disaster plan and see that every key employee has a copy and knows how to proceed if a problem arises. Start here:
- Get proof of preparedness from the large companies you depend on, to insure that they are ready to supply YOU if they’re caught up in disaster
- Determine how you can create cost-effective, sustainable preparations
- Get adequate information from employees to be able to reach them or their families in more than one way in case of emergencies.
- Know what information you’ll need to gather in an emergency and where it can be found: safe deposit box, digital files on CD, paper files? Keep a hard copy and electronic duplicate set of these records off site. (Remember, if your town is without power, no number of CDs or digital files will help you.)
- How will you communicate with your employees and/or clients?
- What specific immediate tasks would each employee be responsible for getting done if you could not communicate immediately? Where are they to go, who are they to try to reach?
- What tasks could be done from another location and where would that location be? Does everyone who would do those tasks know where that is? Could you have a tentative plan for more than one location in case of community-wide disaster.
Also ….. keeping a weather radio handy and knowing the NOAA Weather Radio codes and how to use it for information regarding weather, routes to be taken in emergency in your area, etc., is a good idea. Read and download whatever applies to you here: http://www.nws.noaa.gov/nwr/stations.php?State=SC
Disasters happen, but they don’t have to put you out of business ….. pre-prepare and sleep easier at night!