When you’re running a bakery, an interior decorating practice, or a dry cleaners, a tornado, earthquake or hurricane may seem like the last of your worries.
But all the hard work that you put into growing your business could be meaningless without effective storm preparedness. Follow these steps to be ready:
Do tornadoes sometimes strike in your area? Are wildfires a threat you have to deal with? Identify which natural disasters are most common in your area and determine your business’s risk factor. Start by preparing for the emergencies that have the highest odds of impacting your business, and work your way down from there. Your insurance agent could also be helpful here.
Business owners can get free storm preparedness information from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the American Red Cross. For example, the American Red Cross’ Ready Rating program offers free online disaster preparedness planning. Some chapters also provide free CPR and first aid training for small businesses.
A business impact analysis helps you predict the potential impact that a disaster could have on your business, including lost or delayed sales and income, increased expenses due to repair work, and delayed implementation of business plans. Completing a BIA helps identify potential problems with your existing disaster preparedness plan, such as customer communication, inventory management or record keeping safeguards. Completing a BIA could help you to create and refine your emergency response, crisis communications and business continuity plans. Click here for more information on what a business impact analysis is and how to conduct one.
This is the plan that your business will implement in the event of a natural disaster. The plan should include how you will protect employees and customers, manage business operations and communicate during and after the disaster. Practice this plan. How easy is it to exit your office building on foot? How long does it take to reach the designated meeting place? Who will help customers or employees who need mobility assistance?
This is the plan that you will follow when communicating with employees and customers. Your crisis communication plan will help your business respond promptly and accurately during and after the disaster. Determine in advance who will be your spokesperson; a single, unified voice may help protect your business’s reputation with customers.
If your office or store were destroyed tomorrow, what would happen to your business’s financial data? What about customer records or other sensitive company information? An internal and external data backup site can help protect your company records. Remind employees that any data stored on a computer hard drive, rather than a company server, can be lost. You also may want to look into getting data compromise coverage from your business insurance company. This can help you with the financial or legal burden if information is lost, stolen or accidentally released.
How will your business continue to operate in the event of a natural disaster? For example, if your business sells goods or services online, orders may continue to come in – even if your actual storefront is closed. A continuity plan includes how to manage communication with customers and suppliers, how to fulfill order or service contracts, and how to recover lost company data.
Business insurance can help protect your company from substantial losses in the event of a natural disaster. Beyond property coverage, you might also consider business interruption coverage, which can help ensure your business keeps operating (with potential coverage for lost income, profits, and operating expenses) after a disaster. Of course, your business insurance needs will vary, depending on whether you run a retail shop, office or florist. Talk to your agent to be sure that your business is protected with the right policy.
Is your small business prepared for a natural disaster?