A disaster can prove devastating to an unprepared business owner. But there are things you can do to minimize the effects of whatever disaster may befall your business.
Disasters come in all sizes, from the wildfires that swept across much of California during 2017 and the hurricanes that struck the Caribbean, Florida, Georgia and Texas to more localized events such as a flood or fire that affects only the building in which the business is located. Even though smaller disasters don’t garner the publicity of larger events, to the businesses affected they can be just as damaging.
Preparing for disaster is essential, and should include business continuity planning as well as insuring your operations. Here are some tips:
Disaster planning should include having a list of all your employees and their contact information. Ideally, the list should include at least two ways of contacting your personnel: phone numbers that can receive text messages, and email addresses. And keep that list with you, whether in your phone, or on your tablet or laptop.
Planning for an alternate business location is also well advised, and will depend greatly on the nature of the business. A company such as a real estate agency may initially be able to operate temporarily out of a coffee shop or other location with internet access while a manufacturing firm will need to identify a suitable location as well as those who can supply the equipment they will need on an interim basis.
A disaster plan doesn’t have to list such alternate locations by address, but having a general idea of what kind of facility your business will need will make that decision easier when and if the time comes. Your staff should also know that, should something happen that makes your primary business location unusable, you will advise them via phone call, text and email of where you will meet.
ANTICIPATING WHAT MIGHT HAPPEN
Effective disaster planning also involves anticipating which type of events are most likely to affect your business. If you live in an area of the country prone to earthquakes, like California, certain precautions are essential. Those include making sure your building is up to code and that shelves, water heaters, and other furniture and fixture items are strongly secured to reduce the chances of them falling over and causing damage or injury.
For the property owner, preparedness should also include voluntary mitigation measures that go beyond what is required by local building codes, but which can prevent or minimize damage in case of such an event. If a business is located in hurricane country, hurricane shutters could be such a measure.
Pre-disaster preparation should also include choosing your insurance coverage carefully. In addition to basic fire insurance, consider “rising water” insurance, which can protect in the event of rising water from a flood or a sewer back-up. In many areas of California, earthquake insurance could be a wise investment.
Consider business interruption and extra expense coverage. Business interruption insurance can replace revenue lost because of the disaster, enabling a business owner to keep his or her obligations current until things return to normal. Extra expense coverage can help defray the cost of moving the business to another location while the damaged location is being repaired, thus enabling the business to continue its operations.
DATA BACK UP
Preparing should also include backing up your data frequently – at least daily – and ideally to an off-site service that is designed for data back-up and protection. Too many small business owners either neglect to back up their data, or back it up to a separate storage medium that they either carry with them or store in their home. In the event of a wide-spread disaster, it is quite possible that both the home and business would be affected. Using a professional service increases the chances that your business’s data — including customer lists, sales figures, employee information – will be preserved.
For help with disaster preparedness for your business in the New Year, contact the Economic Development Collaborative-Ventura County. Conveniently located in Camarillo, California, we’re here to help.