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Before a Disaster: 3 Things to Ensure

rsz_before_a_disaster_3_things_to_ensure You can control your business approach, you can control your business location, you can control the software you use; but there’s one thing you simply cannot control: the weather. Natural disasters can strike at any moment, leaving a business of any size in ruins. Instead of trying to pick up the pieces after the damage is done, being prepared can put your business in position to not permanently close after a natural disaster strikes. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, about 40 percent of small businesses are unable to resume operations after a natural disaster. In fact, the U.S. Small Business Administration states that small businesses are often the most unprepared when it comes to emergencies. In order for your small business to avoid being part of that statistic, it’s important to develop a natural disaster preparedness plan and implement it immediately. [Tweet "40 percent of small businesses are unable to resume operations after a natural disaster."] In 2005, hurricanes Katrina and Rita collectively impacted approximately 18,7000 Louisiana businesses. In 2012, super storm Sandy affected 265,000 New York businesses. In 2013, a single tornado damaged 6,133 businesses in Moore, Oklahoma. Out of these businesses affected by devastating natural disasters, 75 percent were considered small businesses. The businesses with implemented disaster recovery plans were able to recover at a much smoother rate than the businesses without. [su_divider top="no" size="2"]

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[su_divider top="no" size="2"] With the amount of small businesses affected by natural disasters, unfortunately only 38 percent of businesses have a formal disaster preparedness plan in place. It’s better to be safe than sorry and start sooner than later with a plan for your business. In order to be successful, you must ensure that you’re entire team of employees is on board and on the same page. Gather employees for an in-person meeting, put pen to paper and plan ahead. The U.S. Small Business Administration provides resources to guide small businesses in developing disaster preparation and response plans. While developing your plan, careful ensure these 3 steps: Burnt Building

Step 1: Guarantee Safety

Former chairperson and CEO of Xerox Corporation Anne M. Mulcahy once said, “Employees are a company’s greatest asset, they’re your competitive advantage. You want to attract and retain the best; provide them with encouragement, stimulus, and make them feel that they are an integral part of the company’s mission.” With that being said, your employees should always be your first priority, especially when it comes to their safety. sid-free-consultation-0516 If a natural disaster strikes during work hours, having an evacuation plan (as well as a back-up arrangement) is the building block to guaranteeing safety. In addition to your employees, consider customers that might be on site and how to effectively communicate the evacuation plan to them. Your evacuation plan should include a shelter location, and don’t forget to invest in a backup generator in case of a long power outage. Once you’ve implemented an evacuation plan, you must decide how to effectively communicate it. Typically, a telephone tree is key in this matter, but you cannot always rely on cell phone or landlines because they could be damaged by the disaster. Instead, consider implement a ham radio. Ham radios have become the go-to communication method for groups such as the Amateur Radio Emergency Service and other emergency responder groups.

Step 2: Review Insurance Policy

Did you know that floods are often not covered in business policies? Although a roof leak that ruins a computer could be covered, unavoidable rising flood waters may not be. Therefore, don’t simply acknowledge that your business has an insurance policy and assume it will take care of any or all damages, actually review it and even update it if necessary. This step is often overlooked when preparing a plan for a natural disaster. There is a possibility that when the policy was purchased, a total loss wasn’t considered. In addition to reviewing your insurance policy, this even allows you to shop around for the best coverage and rates. While insurance is one of the most important factors in preparing for a natural disaster, keep in mind that no policy will cover 100 percent of everything affected by a disaster. The Small Business Administration has offered an option to help financially with low-rate, long term loans to cover physical damage or capital loans to relieve economic injury in some cases.

Step 3: Implement Barcode Software 

The 2016 State of Small Business Report tells us that 48 percent of small businesses do not electronically track their inventory or use a manual process, while 55 percent of small businesses do not electronically track their assets or use a manual process. These statistics tell us that approximately half of all small businesses do not understand the need for implementing a barcode system. Without record keeping from barcode software, it becomes difficult to recover your losses in the event of a disaster. Inventory and warehouse management systems allow you be sure that you have accurate, precise and updated information when filing a claim after a disaster.  In addition, this solution has the ability to track all of your equipment by using a method that ensures easy data recovery. Your equipment isn’t the only thing worthy of being tracked. Employee information, client contacts, tax records and so on have the capability of being damaged, lost or even completed destroyed in the event of a disaster. While keeping records off-site is an option, it is also recommended to keep back-up copies of all records some 50 miles away where the same disaster that strikes your building is unlike to affect the other location. In the scenario that your business is not impacted or is still functional to some degree after a disaster, reaching out to help the community can be beneficial in more ways than one. You might even be able to find a way to help by utilizing your business’ unique skills. For example:
  • Work with food? Provide meals for neighbors and first responders.
  • Got tools or heavy equipment? Help with local clean up and repairs.
  • Transportation or logistics? Offer to ship or store emergency supplies.
  • Still have power? Allow relief organizations to set up their tech operations in your facility.
  • Not sure? Make a monetary donation to disaster relief efforts.
While you can’t control a natural disaster, take control of what you can. By ensuring those three steps and deciding how you’ll extend a helping hand post disaster, you’ll improve the safety and atmosphere of your entire work environment. How is your business prepared for a natural disaster?