First and foremost, every business has unique vulnerabilities and weaknesses. Knowing which disasters are most likely to affect your business can thus help you return to operations faster. In addition, a back-to-business self-assessment can help you gauge your risks for common hazards. This includes hurricanes, wildfires, flooding, cyber attacks or even pandemics.
According to the Institute for Business and Home Safety, 25 percent of businesses will not open again after a disaster. However, being prepared and establishing a road map to recovery will place you in a better position to rebound and reopen quickly.
Below are seven tips to help establish your small business continuity plan:
- Knowledge is power. Take the time to review ready.gov for business checklists and planning toolkits.
- Your human capital is your biggest asset. Establish a protocol to communicate with employees outside of the office to ensure they and their families are safe and test the procedures regularly.
- Keep your plan and helpful documents in a digital format or accessible, protected off-site location. Examples include insurance policies, business financials, business registration documents, land and or building documents, tax documents etc.
- Review your insurance coverage. We know insurance is not the most exciting subject but it’s good to understand your policy. Contact your insurance agent to determine if your coverage is right for your business; then make sure you know the policy limits and deductibles.
Moreover, ask about business interruption insurance, which compensates you for lost income and covers operating expenses if your company must temporarily shut down after a disaster.
- Establish a solid supply chain. If your vendors and suppliers are local and the disaster is widespread, you will all be in the same situation — struggling to recover. Set yourself up to be able to get critical supplies from companies outside your area, if possible. Create a contact list of essential contractors and vendors you plan to use in an emergency and make sure you know your suppliers’ recovery plans.
- Plan for an alternative location. Research alternative places to relocate your company if a disaster forces you to close your business for an extended time.
- Lastly, discuss and practice your plan with your office team.
If a disaster does occur, you may be eligible for a low-interest disaster recovery loan through the SBA for damaged and destroyed assets in a declared disaster via our physical damage loans. These include repair and replacement costs for real estate, personal property, machinery, equipment, inventory and business assets.
Moreover, if your small business suffers a substantial economic injury and is in a declared disaster area, you may be eligible for an SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan. You may find information on our disaster loan programs at www.sba.gov/disaster.
Friends, it’s virtually impossible to determine when the next disaster will occur. However, National Preparedness Month is a nationwide preparedness reminder. I wholeheartedly encourage small businesses to take steps to protect their businesses and also ensure disaster readiness.