Disaster can strike at any time, in any season, and small-business owners can't afford not to have a disaster plan in place.
Whether it's icy roads and power outages or a fire, you need to know: How would you contact your employees, customers and vendors when disaster strikes? How would they reach you? What would happen to your business records? Would your insurance cover the damages? How long would it take to reopen? Could you reopen?
If you haven't already, before it's too late, invest the time now in drawing up a disaster plan for your business:
- Understand the risks. Is your business in a location where flooding is possible? Are tornadoes, hail storms, earthquakes or other acts of nature potential hazards to your business? Make sure you are aware and protected as much as possible against the possible risks.
- Be sure you have adequate insurance. You need at least enough to rebuild your home and business. Review your policies to see what is -- and isn't -- covered. Consider business interruption insurance, which helps cover operating costs during the post-disaster shutdown period. Get flood insurance.
- Take photographs and videos of your assets. Store them online if possible or in waterproof and fireproof containers kept in a safe place, such as a relative's or friend's home or business in another state.
- Have an emergency response plan. Determine your evacuation routes. Establish meeting places. Keep emergency phone numbers handy.
- Develop a communications plan. Designate someone to serve as a contact person for your employees, customers and vendors. Phone and email in your area may be down following a natural disaster, so ask an out-of-state friend, colleague or relative to serve as a post-disaster point of contact.
- Backup your business records. Make copies of your any vital records and store them someplace safe. Use online backups for electronic data, and keep paper documents in a fireproof safety-deposit box.
- Create a disaster kit. Put a flashlight, a portable radio, extra batteries, first-aid supplies, non-perishable food, bottled water, a basic tool kit, plastic sheeting and garbage bags in a bag or box someplace handy, in case of emergency. Encourage your employees to prepare disaster kits for themselves and their families.
- How to Craft a Disaster Plan
- Ways to Prep Your Staff for Disaster
- Backing Up Isn't Hard to Do
- When Disaster Strikes: Navigating the Claims Process
To learn more about disaster preparedness, visit www.NFIB.com/disaster.
Photo of vehicles abandoned during Winter Storm Leon: Georgia Department of Transportation traffic camera/Wikipedia