Disaster Planning for Your Small Business

"A business continuity plan is an essential factor of a small company’s long-term success and will contribute to the community’s economic recovery in the aftermath of a disaster. ”

These are the words of Maria Contreras-Sweet, Administrator, U.S. Small Business Administration. Do you have a plan in place?

The SBA reports that roughly 40 to 60 percent of small businesses never reopen their doors following a disaster like severe storms, flooding, tornadoes, wildfires and hurricanes. Business interruptions, even short ones, can cost you big time in terms of lost productivity and profits.

September is National Preparedness Month. If you don’t have a disaster recovery plan in place, put it at the top of your to-do list. The theme this year is “Don’t Wait, Communicate. Make Your Emergency Plan Today”.

Here are easy steps you can take now to prepare.

  • Write down everything that is needed to run your business. This might include phones, computers, machinery or vehicles.
  • Cloud computing is a broad term for any platform, software or data storage system hosted on the Internet instead of on internal servers. If you don’t have your data backed up into the cloud, start researching. Read the SmartBiz Small Business Blog article “Important Reasons to Embrace the Cloud” for more information.
  • Plan for staffing interruptions. What if your team has to leave the office or can’t make it in? Do you have remote options in place for employees? Cross-train your staff so coverage is easier.
  • Have safety equipment on site. Stock up on water and snacks and create a first aid kit that can service all on-site staff.
  • Create a phone or text tree so that everyone can be contacted quickly.
  • Make evacuation plans. Put one employee in charge of head count to make sure everyone gets out safely. Some companies provide the point person with a neon vest or so the staff and first responders can easily identify them.
  • Do you have easy-to-carry important paperwork (like a check book) or equipment that needs to come with you in case of an evacuation? Put that into the disaster plan so nothing vital gets left behind.
  • You might have to file an insurance claim. Take photos of all equipment, computers and products you sell. (You should do this anyway in case of theft or another loss) Check your insurance coverage to make sure you are covered in case of a disaster.
  • Once you’ve created a plan, share it with your staff and key vendors if necessary. Hold regular drills to make sure the systems you put into place will work.

Would you like additional resources? The SBA has partnered with Agility Recovery to offer business continuity strategies. Visit www.preparemybusiness.org to check out the archived webinars and for more disaster preparedness tools.

Alexander Graham Bell said it best, “Before anything else, preparation is the key to success”.