DISASTER PREPAREDNESS FOR YOUR BUSINESS
Getting back to business after a disaster depends on preparedness planning done today. Small business owners invest a tremendous amount of time, money and resources to make their ventures successful, and yet, while the importance of emergency planning may seem self-evident, it may get put on the back-burner in the face of more immediate concerns.
For small business owners, being prepared can mean staying in business following a disaster. An estimated 25 percent of businesses do not reopen following a major disaster, according to the Institute for Business and Home Safety.
The SBA encourages business owners to prepare for the possibility of a major disaster and offers the following tips:
1. Start the disaster plan by identifying what your operation needs to do to protect itself in the face of a natural disaster. Even if you don’t own the building where you do business, take steps to protect your assets.
2. Determine what production machinery, computers and other essential equipment is needed to keep your business open. Store extra supplies offsite, and make a plan for a temporary location if your company is forced to relocate after the disaster. Be ready for utility disruptions with a portable generator.
3. Find escape routes from the business and establish meeting places. Make sure everyone understands the emergency plan before the storm hits. Designate a contact person to communicate with other employees, customers and vendors.
4. Review your insurance coverage to make sure you understand what is not covered. Most policies don’t cover flood damage.
5. The National Flood Insurance Program provides coverage to property owners. Go to the NFIP Web site at http://www.floodsmart.gov.
6. Consider business interruption insurance. It covers operating expenses, like utilities, and compensates you for the income lost after a temporary closure.
7. Make back-up copies of all tax, accounting, payroll and production records and customer data on computer hard drives, and store the records at an offsite location at least 100 miles away. Important documents should be saved in fireproof safe deposit boxes.
8. To protect your property from wind damage, install impact-resistant windows and door systems, or plywood shutters. Hire a professional to evaluate your roof to make sure it can weather a major storm.
9. Develop a post-disaster communications strategy. Keep current phone numbers for your suppliers, employees, customers, utility companies, local media, and emergency agencies. Appoint a spokesperson to get the word out that your company is still open and on the road to recovery, to dispel rumors of business failure.
For more information, please visit the U.S. Small Business Administration’s website at www.sba.gov. The materials and resources on this Web site can help small businesses make plans to recover from financial losses and business interruption and to protect their employees, the community and the environment.