All too often companies are not prepared for the impact of a natural disaster. They may view the potential for disaster as remote, believing that the images of devastation they see on television will never be close enough to witness in person.
But preparation is an essential ingredient for success that savvy business owners and top managers everywhere pay careful attention to.
Consider, for instance, your approach to new business development, or your strategy when negotiating vendor agreements, manufacturing contracts, or advertising retainers. Consider the time and resources you invest in understanding your competition and your customers.
There is no question that serious preparation for new business development, vendor agreement negotiations, manufacturing contracts and advertising yields results. Since you are ready for all of your greatest business challenges, shouldn’t you also be ready for the biggest challenges that nature might throw your way?
Disasters are unpredictable and expensive
Disasters are unpredictable to varying degrees, and their targets are random. The threat of hurricanes, the potential for an earthquake, the fear of flooding – depending on what area of the country you live in – these are real threats!
Just about every state in America faces the possibility of some kind of natural disaster at some point in the year, and many states are at risk of multiple disasters. New York, for example, is at risk for earthquakes, hurricanes, blizzards, wildfires, AND tornadoes.
According to a recent study conducted by Business Insider, from 2000 to 2015, natural disasters cost the global economy 2.5 trillion dollars. Furthermore, one in three small business owners say they have personally been affected by a storm or extreme weather. The Institute for Business and Home Safety says that at least 25 percent of businesses will close after a natural disaster and never reopen.
Keep in mind, it does not take a major disaster to seriously impact your business; even a loss of power that shuts down your phone systems or order processing for a day or so could lead to lost revenue.
To minimize the impact of an event of any magnitude on your business, you should establish and regularly test a comprehensive disaster preparedness plan. Here are some basic tips to help you get started, regardless of your type of business or where it is located.
Should an emergency occur during business hours, your safety and the safety of your employees is the most important.
Every business should have an evacuation plan for personnel and customers, and they should share this plan regularly with employees and test it to ensure its viability.
It is a good idea to assign a team captain to take charge and coordinate in the event of an emergency; check the backgrounds of your employees for anyone who might have military or other kinds of training. Many businesses also find it helpful to bring in an expert for some additional training or workshops.
Once you have a plan for your people, you should address your approach to communications and records.
Make sure all employees are informed to keep their mobile phones fully charged on a regular basis; these devices may be the only lines of communication in a disaster. Next, create a phone chain for employees to pass along vital information to one another.
Make sure you and your employees have a full list of emergency contact phone numbers, including local and state police, fire departments, and emergency management.
Protecting your vital data and records is also essential.
Are your servers backed up? Off-premises or cloud computer servers are the best way to protect accounting and other key records and critical elements, such as emails. You should also make daily electronic backups of important documents, files and databases; make copies of those records and store them in an off-site, physically secure facility.
Articles of incorporation, accounts receivable, client records and important personnel and administrative documents should be among the priorities for back-up.
Be sure to keep your business supplies well-stocked. Think of what you’ll need to stay functional for at least a week or two. In the days or weeks following a flood, hurricane or other natural disaster, you may not be able to get to retail stores or receive any deliveries.
Do you have the supplies you need to keep it business as usual? Now is the time to make sure you have an adequate supply of everything from bottled water to office supplies.
A disaster preparedness plan for your business is one of those things that you should have but hope you never use, rather than need and wish you had. Proper disaster planning can go a long way to giving you the peace of mind that comes with knowing that your business is ready, willing, and able to shift into disaster response mode, whenever it may be necessary.
Think of a disaster plan as an insurance plan. Do you have health, life, auto and business insurance? Protect all of them with disaster insurance. Need help developing a plan? Contact the experts! Game Plan Experts can customize a plan specific to your business. www.gameplanexperts.com
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