Businesses must be prepared for natural catastrophes to avoid subsequent damages. Therefore, it is essential to have a plan, practice it, and update it as needed. Unfortunately, small business owners prepare less for natural calamities than largeR companies. According to a survey, as little as 15% of small business owners in the United States prepare for natural disasters compared to 45% of major firms.
We all remember how Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005. The hurricane caused a power outage that left businesses without electricity for days, if not weeks. This catastrophic event forced many business owners to close their doors. In addition, it caused an estimated $73.8 billion worth of damage and relief efforts.
Therefore, it is critical to highlight that a company’s survival instinct must kick in when disasters like these hit, irrespective of the size.
Common Natural Disasters:
Every geographical location is susceptible to different natural disasters. Business owners should acquaint themselves with the most common natural disasters in their area and take the necessary precautions. The southern United States, for instance, is susceptible to hurricanes, while wildfires are common in the western United States.
Some of the commonly occurring natural disasters are:
Emergency Management Tips:
If you run a small bakery, a dry-cleaning shop, or a small restaurant. A natural disaster may never even turn an otherwise profitable day into a total loss. But, as we’ve seen repeatedly, Mother Nature is unpredictable and ruthless.
Not only does a natural disaster affect business owners, but other stakeholders like employees, customers, and suppliers can all be negatively impacted as well. That’s why small business owners need an emergency management guide to help them through such instances.
Follow these tips to help keep your business afloat during and after a natural disaster:
Create a Business Emergency Plan:
An emergency plan is an essential part of small business emergency management. The plan should include contact information for employees, suppliers, and customers, a map of the company with critical areas identified, and a list of emergency supplies.
The plan should also outline how the business will operate in a natural disaster. For example, will employees work remotely, or if the business will halt operations?
Run a Business Impact Analysis:
A BIA is a critical step in preparing for a natural disaster. The analysis will help you determine the potential impacts a natural disaster could have on your business, such as loss of income, increased expenses, and damaged inventory.
A BIA assists in the development of a mitigation plan outlining how you can reduce the potential impacts of a natural disaster. It could include customer communication, inventory management, or record-keeping safeguards.
Update the Business Emergency Plan Regularly:
Disasters can happen at any time; therefore, you must update your emergency plan regularly. Make sure to review the plan after any significant changes to your business, such as adding or removing employees, moving to a new location, or changing suppliers.
Your updated business plan must also factor in how you’ll continue operating and surviving during and after a natural disaster. For example, if you’re a retail business, you’ll have to consider how you will continue to serve customers if the store is damaged. Where will you store your inventory? How will you fulfill orders? Or how to recover the lost sales?
Store Critical Documents Electronically:
Data is everything in today’s business world. If your business is destroyed in a natural disaster, you don’t want to lose the critical information your business runs on.
Upload all essential documents on a database or cloud server, such as employee records, insurance policies, leases, and permits. Then, even if your office or store is destroyed, you can still access the information you need to rebuild your business.
Invest in obtaining a cloud solution to avoid unpleasant surprises. At this time, business solutions may seem like an extravagance. Instead, look for more affordable options that are available worldwide.
The pillars of emergency management for small businesses are planning, preparation, and training. If your employees don’t know what to do in a natural disaster, the business may be at risk.
Train your employees on what to do if you face a power outage, fire, earthquake, or flood. They should also know how to work remotely if the business is closed. You can train your employees by going through the emergency plan and practicing drills.
Don’t Be Impulsive:
The time for planning and preparing is over once a natural disaster hits. Now is the time to switch gears and execute the plan. However, don’t be too hasty in making decisions. Acting impulsively in the middle of a disaster could lead to more problems for your business.
This is when you need to exude your leadership skills and make decisions in your business’s best interest. For example, what will you do if you discover that the store’s merchandise boxes have water damage after a waterlogging accident? Immediately unpack them or allow them to dry? You certainly cannot leave things lying around until you make a decision.
Get in Touch with Your Insurance Company:
No matter how well you plan and prepare for a natural disaster, there’s always a chance something might go wrong. That’s why it’s crucial to have insurance.
But don’t wait until after a disaster strikes to contact your insurance company. Many policies have waiting periods before they go into effect. And don’t forget to review your insurance policy regularly to make sure you have the right coverage for your business. Contacting an insurance company to ask about your rates, for example, can be regarded as a claim on your file in some states and will thus have an impact on your future premiums.
Take the Time to Grieve:
Natural disasters can be emotionally and mentally taxing on everyone involved. As a result, business owners often feel the pressure to get the business back up and running quickly. First, however, it’s essential to take the time to grieve your losses.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help from friends, family, and professionals. Seek out counseling if you need it. And remember that it’s okay to take a break from work.
There’s a high chance numerous disasters can impact your business if you reside in an area prone to natural catastrophes like floodplains. So make sure to have a plan in place for recovery and prevention.
If a natural disaster strikes, assign each team member a particular responsibility that would be beneficial in getting things moving quickly during a crisis. You may also obtain ideas by surveying operational and frontline personnel who possess the most experience in emergency management.
Be prepared, so your business can bounce back by implementing a few simple steps. Emergencies are inevitable; it’s best to be proactive to soften the blow.