There’s no question that eventually, a disaster will strike your business. The real question is whether you’ll be prepared. According to FEMA, 40 to 60 percent of small businesses never reopen after a disaster. Don’t be part of this statistic. Take the following four steps now to make sure you’re prepared for potential disasters and to manage whatever crises develop in the aftermath.
Step 1: Assess the Risks
Some types of disasters – like hurricanes and wildfires – occur every year, and businesses in affected areas should be ready each season. Other risks – like pandemics and civil unrest – don’t follow a regular schedule and are therefore difficult to predict. Nevertheless, businesses should be ready for these disasters, too.
Don’t get caught off guard. Determine what types of disasters could impact your business, and start preparing.
Step 2: Create an Emergency Plan
An emergency plan is a key tool for disaster preparedness and crisis management.
- Develop an emergency plan for each type of disaster that could threaten your business. There are many resources that businesses can use to get started. For example, the U.S. Small Business Administration provides checklists and safety lists for hurricanes, winter weather, earthquakes, tornadoes, wildfires, floods and cyber security.
- Think about what you’ll do before, during and after the emergency. What supplies and preparations are needed now to prepare for a possible emergency? What should you do when an emergency is imminent? What steps should be taken during the emergency to ensure that everyone is safe and to protect the property? How can the business recover and resume operations after the emergency is over?
- Gather the supplies you’ll need. This should include an emergency supply kit as well as any additional items you’ll need for possible emergencies, such as sandbags or materials to board up windows.
- Back up important documents. A computer system could be destroyed in a storm, cyberattack or other disaster, so backups are essential. These backups should be stored in a separate and secure location, whether it’s a second physical location or digital storage. The IRS has tips on securing financial and tax records.
Step 3: Get Ready
An emergency plan won’t do any good if nobody at your company knows about it. Take steps before a disaster strikes to make sure everyone on your team is ready.
- Train your team. Make sure everyone is familiar with the emergency plan and their role within it. Also make sure people know where to find emergency supplies and how to use them. Do practice drills as needed.
- Plan how you’ll communicate before, during and after the emergency. What will your main communication methods be? Who is in charge of sending out messages? Consider how you will communication with employees, vendors and customers.
- Consider how to resume operations. If your physical location is inaccessible, for example, will operations be able to continue remotely? Also consider which team members should return to work first and what steps they will need to take.
Step 4: Develop Your Resources
Your business may not be able to handle a crisis alone. There are many resources available for you, and you should be ready to draw on them.
Important resources may include the following:
- Higginbotham’s Catastrophe Support Team
- Local and federal authorities, including FEMA, the CDC and your state government
- Third-party companies, such as restoration companies
- Local and trade business groups
- Your insurance agent, who can help you verify that you have sufficient coverage for your risks
As we’ve learned from COVID-19, you can't assume that disasters will never happen. Now is the time to get prepared! Contact us today.