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Getting back to normal after a natural disaster isn’t easy. Still, with some foresight, you can relieve some of the pain and stress of getting your business running smoothly again. At the very least, you can sustain it for the medium term.
Of course, the safety of your staff and the protection of your property and business assets are the first priorities. However, once the event occurs, you have to do the work necessary to rebuild your business.
To help you with this challenging process, here is how you can prepare your company for natural disasters:
Create an Emergency Operations Plan
What will you do if a natural disaster disrupts your everyday business routine at some point? Will you simply wing it and hope that everything works out?
If this is your plan, then you don’t have a plan at all.
You need to create an emergency operations plan to fall back on in the event of a disaster. It may involve your team working in a reduced capacity. Or it could mean ushering in a new company hierarchy, workflow, and budget.
The key is to have this planned out long before you need to use it. Of course, you don’t want your team to learn about it only during the disaster. They should be briefed on it early.
Perhaps your customer service agents will field additional calls, or maybe you scale back your sales to focus only on the most important clients.
Have occasional drills or practices each quarter where your team will act as if the natural disaster has just occurred. This will reduce the training and lead time to get everything back to normal.
If you have the right emergency plan, you won’t be caught off guard, and you can continue to grow instead of merely survive.
It’s hard to go it alone when you experience a natural disaster. You want as many people on your side as possible. And help can come in surprising ways. If you have a car dealership in the midwest, perhaps a “rival” car dealer on the coast can be a significant ally, for example.
Forge partnerships with other companies you work with. Make an agreement to help each other out if a natural disaster comes your way.
For instance, if you require a lot of physical space to store products, reach out to warehouse and storage companies, or other businesses that maintain such a space.
You will be able to lean on your partners in a worst-case scenario. It could be the difference between ceasing your operations for months on end or having everything ready to go a week later. And that will all affect the long term growth of your company.
Upgrade Your Insurance
No one wants to pay for insurance. And yet, everyone wants coverage when it is needed most. Now is an excellent time to review your policy. Does it cover disasters? How much financial compensation will you receive? Is there a limit? Consider upgrading to be able to purchase your core assets at the very least.
Document Your Assets
In accounting, you document all of your finances. You look at your debt, your equity, your assets, and liabilities. Of course, this is an integral part of the business because if your cash runs dry, then you can’t sustain the operations.
However, the same thing goes for physical assets, employees, and other entities of value that make up your business. You and your team leaders should work together to document every known asset that your business has.
This process serves a few primary purposes.
Firstly, you will know what needs to be replaced in the event of a natural disaster. If you try to play the guessing game after the fact, it will only result in pain and frustration.
Secondly, this allows you to show your insurance company what assets you had. This is vital for being reimbursed. If you have to pay to replace every asset, it could set your business back so much that it is impossible to climb out of this hole.
Once you have your assets documented, store this list in a safe place. Have a physical copy and a digital copy in an encrypted or secure data storage program. Also, give a copy to your accountant, lawyer, and any key stakeholders in your business.
Whether it comes to website servers, fleets of vehicles, or other company assets, it is wise to maintain redundancies.
Ideally, they are located in different physical locations so that if one area is compromised, the other collection is safely stored and ready to go.
Back Up Important Data
Most businesses underestimate the importance of their data. They fail to treat it like the gold that it is and don’t have a backup plan in place. This is a big mistake that you want to avoid. If something goes wrong, you risk losing everything.
Think for a moment about the kinds of data your business possesses.
First, there is your private business information and company secrets. If these fall into the wrong hands, you can lose your entire business advantage overnight. And if they simply get lost or deleted, you will be faced with the same problem.
Then, you have the private and financial information of your customers. You could be liable for damages if you let this information become compromised. Finally, there is all the industry and marketing data that you have collected. If it were to be lost, it would be a huge time and money waste.
To avoid bankruptcy, you need to have a disaster recovery plan for your data. It should answer the questions of what you will do to keep business going and how you will recover your data efficiently.
Otherwise, you could lose out on months of business operations, or your entire business altogether.
Budget for Payroll without Revenue
The last thing you want is to have to lay off or suspend employees. This will drastically reduce or eliminate your ability to continue to run your business. Without customer service, technical, and all the other team members you have, you simply can’t deliver on your promises to your market.
The smart move is to plan ahead for your payroll. Assume that at some point you will experience a natural disaster. Start setting aside payroll to save up for this contingency in advance.
While it takes revenue off the table in the short term, it will give you peace of mind in the long run.
Your business already faces many big challenges. The global marketplace is more competitive than ever. Besides, 2020 ushered in a “new normal” that saw decreasing economic classes and restricted movement. When you add a natural disaster to the mix, it can be devastating.
However, you can mitigate risks by preparing your company to be rebuilt and even thrive after such an event. The key is to consider the possible obstacles you will face and have a plan that you can execute right away.
The points above are your starting point to make your business as immune to a natural disaster as possible.