Natural disasters may hit at any time of the year, but the recent wildfires in Colorado and derecho (line of violent thunderstorms) that cut a path across the Midwest and mid-Atlantic have made Americans aware that the atmosphere is often very unstable during the summer months.
Have you given any thought to a disaster plan of action for your small business? Having a continuity strategy in place prior to an emergency situation can go a long way toward helping your company return to normal business operations sooner.
An obvious place to begin is reviewing and possibly updating your insurance coverage. Store hard copies of important insurance and other paperwork in a safe place. A remote location is ideal, provided you are able to easily retrieve these documents after a disaster.
As you plan how your business would function day-to-day, think about how you would communicate with your employees. Are there two or three key managers who could be assigned with specific tasks prior to an approaching storm? Are employees able to work remotely during emergency situations? If your company is a retail operation, what circumstances would dictate a change in business hours? How would altered hours be shared with your existing customers and the general public?
Is the physical location of your company in a low-lying area, subject to flooding? How do you protect your inventory and FF&E? How would travel to your location and parking at your facility be affected? It may be wise to stock up in advance on extra office and related supplies. Power outages and other utility disruptions almost always occur when a disaster hits. Often, days or even weeks may pass before electricity is restored. Would having a backup generator be worth the initial investment in order to keep your company running immediately after an emergency?
What about important electronic data? Some careful consideration should be given to the method and frequency chosen for saving pertinent data. Are back-up files stored remotely and safely?
If you have experienced physical or economic damages after a disaster, there may be relief in sight. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) offers assistance to eligible companies in declared disaster areas. Any size company may provide an application for a low-interest loan to help repair or replace damaged property and items. There are also working capital loans available to help relieve economic injury caused by a declared disaster. The loans are available at reasonable terms and can typically also cover uninsured losses.
For additional information, please contact the SBA directly at 1-800-659-2955 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
And start planning your recovery strategy in advance of the next natural disaster or other emergency.