8 Step Plan for your Business
Unfortunately there are times some businesses are forced to close due to a disaster or emergency and are not able to reopen. Small businesses are especially vulnerable because they do not usually have the means to continue paying expenses when income is interrupted. By planning ahead your business can greatly reduce the chances of a disaster becoming a death sentence for your business. Here are a few things that should be in place.
Identify which natural disasters are most likely to occur in your area. Recognize that some disasters can be very localized, like a tornado or brush fire and others can affect a wide area like hurricanes or floods. You will need a plan flexible enough to deal with both situations.
You should review your insurance protection. First, it is best to understand what is covered and what is not covered. For instance, while many business insurance policies cover loss of income that only applies to causes of loss specified in business insurance policies. Flood, earthquake, and acts of terrorism are often excluded as covered causes of loss. More so, when a disaster does not affect you directly, even if the cause of loss is covered, you would not be compensated for lost business income. Scenarios like this include a major supplier suspending operations or a significant part of your customer base being forced to evacuate due to flood or fire.
Once you understand what is covered you need to review the amounts of insurance you need. You should confirm that your insurance protection will be enough to see you through a transition period and get your business up and running again.
Your employees should be assigned key responsibilities and make sure everyone knows who is responsible for what in the event of a disaster. Typical responsibilities include deciding whether to implement the emergency plan, contacting employees, setting up temporary operations, etc.
Make sure all employees have a copy of your emergency contact list which includes names, addresses, cell phone numbers, and email addresses. Contact list should also include local fire, police, and federal authorities like FEMA and the SBA. You should also compile a list of your largest and most important suppliers and customers.
Back up your latest data of all important records and computer information. Your business will be up and running faster with up to date insurance. Few businesses can run for very long or recover very easily without the information that is the lifeblood of commerce.
Identify alternative business locations for the short and long term. Your business may have the meant to have employees work from their homes if your business location becomes inaccessible. But you may need to make provisions for temporary office space in the event that is not possible. Likewise, you may want to identify a facility where you could set up operations or outsource work during a recovery period. Always have a backup plan.
Have your inventory of business property and equipment including serial numbers. Include the price, when bought, and vendor or retailer. You will need this information for insurance reimbursement and tax purposes should the business property become damaged or destroyed.
Walkthrough plans. Make sure you have a plan in tact what works! What looks good on paper often breaks down in practice. Consider different scenarios. For instance, if you will rely on cell phones for short-term communication what happens if the cellular network is down or overloaded? How will you let employees know what to do?
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