Protecting your business involves planning on multiple fronts. It means protecting your business from lawsuits, theft, cyberattacks and natural disasters. It also involves creating a succession plan so your business continues under new management should that become necessary.
While California is known as earthquake country, the more frequent threat comes from fires. In 2017, the state was struck by nearly 9,000 wildfires, which burned 1.2 million acres of land (an area the size of Delaware), destroyed more than 10,800 structures and claimed at least 46 lives.
Fires erupted as far north at the Klamath National Forest on the Oregon border, as far south as San Diego and as far east as the Sierra Nevada Mountains. No area seemed immune.
And then there are the earthquakes. From the famous magnitude 7.8 San Francisco earthquake of 1906 to the 6.9 Loma Prieta quake in 1989 to the 6.7 Northridge quake of 1993 and the 6.0 Napa Valley quake of 2014, they too can strike anywhere at any time.
What can you do to protect your business?
While specific steps can vary depending on the type of disaster, a prepared business owner should identify the steps to take before, during and after a disaster. They will need to identify their risks and know which disasters are most likely to affect their business.
Any business can be hit with a lawsuit; work to keep risks to a minimum and retain competent legal counsel to consult as necessary.
Although any business can fall victim to Internet viruses and other malicious software spread by bad actors, steps can be taken. At an absolute minimum, get anti-virus software installed on your computers and keep its protections up to date. Have a data policy that addresses opening email attachments and following links. Consider having an expert provide training on how to spot and avoid “phishing” attempts.
Other hazards can be as simple as a power outage or as serious as a fire or earthquake.
Business leaders should develop a workplace emergency plan and be sure employees know what that plan is. They will also need a crisis communications plan to keep in contact with customers, suppliers and employees during and after a disaster. Then, they need to test and practice those preparedness plans.
Have emergency supplies available at the workplace and be sure your employees know where to find them. A first aid kit may be the most critical but having a case of water per person as well as some energy bars or other non-perishable food is also a good idea.
Providing assistance and support for employees should also be a part of a business’s preparedness program. In many cases, disasters are widespread enough that they can affect the employees’ homes as well as your business.
Plan ahead to back up your data. Ideally, it should be backed up offsite, and be backed up automatically. A third-party provider with a robust back-up system of its own it preferable to backing up your data manually on a thumb drive or portable hard drive that you take home each night.
Check your insurance policies to ensure you have enough coverage before a disaster strikes. Speak with your insurance professional about specific hazard coverage. Coverages for earthquakes, hurricanes and other specific disasters are often excluded from standard plans and must be added as riders.
In the event of an actual emergency, listen to local officials and follow their instructions.
The EDC-VC has additional resources that can help business owners with preparedness. The Department of Homeland Security also has online resources at Ready.gov.
For more information on protecting your employees and your business, contact the Economic Development Collaborative-Ventura County. Conveniently located in Camarillo, California, we’re here to help.
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