Disaster Strikes! Do You Have a Plan?

Stuff happens.  If there is one thing we can count on it is change.  Some changes are good; other changes are not so good.  A few things that determine whether change is perceived as good or bad are whether the change is beneficial to us, our level of expectancy, and our level of preparedness.

One change that most business owners would consider as negative would be a natural or man-made disaster.  The amount of time, energy and money business owners invest into their businesses could never be recovered without proper planning.  According to the SBA website, twenty-five percent of businesses never re-open after a major disaster.  Think back on the major events that have happened in the U.S. alone in the last ten to fifteen years; the 911 tragedies, the Gulf oil spill, the tornado outbreaks of 2011, and Hurricane Katrina, just to name a few.  One out of every four businesses affected by those events never re-opened afterwards.  Those losses not only affect the business owners, their families and employees, but the local communities also.

The unexpected loss of a business has long lasting effects.  If the owner decides to try to recover, they must do so without the benefit of the income from the business.  There are so many things to consider during an already stressful time.  Does your business have ongoing bills to pay regardless of whether or not the business is operating?  What about your personal expenses?  For many business owners, the business is the sole source of their personal income.  What about your employees?  They still need to make a living.  Will they be available to help you in the recovery process?

The best strategy to help your business recover after a disaster is to plan ahead.  Start thinking about what you will do if tragedy strikes.  But don’t just think about it, come up with a solid plan and put it in writing.  After that, test the plan out to find those “bugs” that may stop you in your tracks.  Test, re-test and improve on the plan until you get it right.  Have an inventory of all of your business assets including the descriptions, purchase prices and current value of those assets.  A video or picture log is great for this purpose.  Have a list of your customers and vendors stored in a safe place so you can stay in contact with them.   Have a back-up of all data bases, documents, and other important information stored off-site.  Once you have these things in place, store them in the cloud, a safe deposit box, or with a trusted friend or family member in an area not likely to be affected by the same disaster at the same time.  Have adequate amounts of the proper insurance in place.  Have an emergency fund to cover deductibles and other immediate cash based needs.

Does all of this sound overwhelming?  I’m writing about it thinking the exact same thing.  Worse than that, these are only a few suggestions.  The good news is that there are resources to help you with the planning process.  Ready.gov is a wonderful resource to find information and tools to help you put your disaster plan in place.

Are you still thinking, “there’s no way ’ll ever get that done”.  Linda Putnam at Restore Your Niche (www.restoreyourniche.com) can help walk you through the process or do it for you.  Linda is in the business of helping business owners plan ahead and recover after disasters.  Her moto is “it’s not a disaster if you have a plan”.

Whatever you do, do something.  We work way too hard as business owners to let it all be swept away without a plan for recovery.

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