June 1st was the first day of the 2016 hurricane season. Two named storms have already come and gone before the season officially started. Weather reporters are currently watching a system that could develop into the third named storm of the season within the next 5 days. Depending on where you live in the US, these little known facts may or may not affect you. However, in every corner of the country, and the world, when there’s an entire season devoted to a weather phenomenon, we need to pay attention. As I watch the local news each morning, the weather is not given much air time. This all changes when a “weather alert day” is declared. The weather becomes the news and everything else takes a back seat. From June 1st to November 30th, any news day in Florida can be an emergency preparedness day.
So, what does this have to do with small business owners? I’ll ask YOU the question –do you have a plan? Many of us work out of home offices, borrowed spaces, garages and spare bedrooms. Many of us share spaces with other entrepreneurs, sometimes renting space for months, weeks or even days at a time. We have established, growing businesses but no permanent residency for our developing empires. Some small to medium sized businesses have had the opportunity to put down roots in a permanent location (rented or purchased), but the question remains –what do you do in case of an emergency? Schools have fire drills, law enforcement has contingency plans –what would YOU (and your staff) do in the event of an emergency? What is your recovery plan? Whether you are hit physically by some unfortunate catastrophic event, virtually by malware, or in jeopardy of running out of funding, have a plan.
When your insurance representative asks you for a list of all equipment for your policy, make sure you maintain an updated list for yourself. This list is not just for tax season when gains and losses are calculated, but this list can help you recover quickly if something gets damaged in a storm or goes missing.
What type of savings do you have available if your industry takes a turn and your merchandise no longer flies off of the shelf? Can you absorb the costs? Can the costs be redistributed? Can your product be reinvented to serve another industry or market? Think about these things, write a backup plan and have it in reserve, just like that savings account.
If you and your staff operate out of an office, can you continue to work virtually in case of severe weather? Can you partner with another business to share emergency space? Can your network support a complete virtual office until you can return to the building? How will this scenario affect your customers, your supply chain, your investors? Back up plans apply here as well.
Make a plan and review it. Make sure everyone knows their part in the plan, hope that you don’t have to execute it, but be ready if you do. Emergency preparedness is not just for hurricane season. However, if the named storms remind you to review your plan every so often (yearly, quarterly, seasonally), your company is more prepared than it was yesterday.