By: Heather Redding
Natural disasters are inevitable and can happen at any time. You need to be prepared.
For example, in 2017, natural disasters caused damage amounting to $306.2 billion across the United States. As a result, businesses experienced both revenue and asset losses.
As an entrepreneur, you need to be prepared at all times, with foresight on how you can get your organization back in operation if disaster strikes. Your priority should be to preserve your assets, safeguard your workforce, and ensure business interruptions are kept minimal.
A disaster can affect your future operations if you don’t implement careful planning and communication. A business continuity plan can help you stand up to any occurrence that may disable your business.
Importance of Disaster Preparedness
Every business faces challenges of implementing a recovery plan to ensure the company continues to run, and its employees are safe after a disaster. The losses from natural disasters can be overwhelming, crippling your efforts to swing back into action.
Here’s why disaster preparedness is essential to your business:
- It Enables You to Keep Your Employees Safe – Your employees’ safety is an essential part of disaster preparedness. When a disaster such as a flood or a storm occurs, you can’t always predict what will go wrong. If you want to maintain business continuity, you’ll need your employees by your side. That’s why they need to be safe at all times.
- It Helps You Create a Professional Impression – Disaster preparedness allows you to display a professional impression to your staff, clients, and customers. When audited, your professionalism will be highlighted, and even your employees will remain loyal, knowing they’re working with a firm that thinks long-term.
- It Improves B2B Relations – If your business shuts down even temporarily due to a natural disaster, this will also affect your business partners and customers, since they rely on you for their mission-critical processes. However, if your company continues to operate after the disaster, stakeholders will continue to trust your professionalism and maintain their loyalty.
- It Ensures Business Continuity – When you prepare for a natural disaster, you can maintain business continuity even after it strikes. With data well backed up, employees ready to work from home, and contingency plans in place, you can quickly get your company back on track.
Protecting Your Firm from Natural Disaster
Here are vital things to keep in mind if you want to protect your company against natural disasters:
Create an Emergency Operations Plan
Developing an emergency operations plan will ensure business continuity after a disaster. The company’s future recovery depends on how well you’ve prepared. To get operations in motion, you may need to change your working mode, like switching to remote work. This means acquiring the right technology for virtual communication, monitoring, and task handling.
Your plan should include the following:
- The delegation of tasks and responsibilities to on-site and offsite workers, as well as team leaders. Select the right people to help you coordinate matters during this time.
- The continuation of company operations if its physical presence is compromised. Will you shift to remote working?
- The acquisition of fully-stocked emergency kits accessible to employees
- The modes of communication you’ll use to interact with your employees. You should keep employee contact information updated at all times.
- The means of communicating with your customers and other stakeholders. You should know which messaging technique you’ll employ to make them know your business’s position amidst the disaster.
- The strategies to ensure everyone’s safety if disaster strikes during working hours. How will they be evacuated? Are your employees well versed in disaster drills?
Review your emergency plan with your teams to ensure everyone is on the same page with your outlined procedures and ready to go with your plan.
Document Your Assets
Now that you have a plan in motion, focus on measures necessary to protect your company. Create an updated inventory of all your assets. List them and make copies of all of the company’s essential documentation for safekeeping. You could also take pictures or make videos of all company assets to keep as a record.
Always have a backup of all your documents and systems for easy recovery when the equipment gets damaged. Store all documentation and backup information in a secure location far from your business premises.
Hiring an expert to assess your company property is also a good idea, as she/he can provide safety recommendations to help you with disaster preparedness.
Communicate with your insurance providers to make sure your policy is up to date. They will also advise you on the right insurance coverage that includes natural disasters. You may have to add more policies to your existing plan, such as excess liability coverage.
Back-Up Important Data
Backing up necessary company data is essential and never to be ignored. Not many businesses are prepared for disastrous situations, and failing to protect or back your data could risk your business and even lead to bankruptcy. This will prevent you from bouncing back to save your company.
The risks to company data are many and everywhere and there is more to them than natural disasters. Hackers, ransomware, and viruses from cyber-attacks—all of these can destroy your business with system breaches and loss of essential company data.
Physical threats to your data, such as floods and fires, can wipe out your data, making recovery impossible. However, multiple backups allow you to recover it quickly as you strive to salvage your company.
Keep in mind that limiting your contingency efforts to responding to a disaster is not enough. You want to keep things up and running with minimal disruption no matter what happens, so it is in your best interest to have a business continuity plan and a disaster recovery plan—especially if you’re a small business owner.
Regardless of natural disasters or any other threats to your information, backing up your data is a business best practice. To effectively back it up, don’t keep your data on paper. Instead, move it to the cloud. Scan all your data, upload, and sync it into your cloud storage system. This way, you’ll be able to access it any time no matter where you are.
Regularly update all the company information in your systems. Keep the system backup on autopilot.
Budget for Payroll without Revenue
If your business has been in any way affected by the COVID pandemic, payroll without revenue is a topic you’re painfully familiar with.
When a disaster strikes, you have to deal with a wide variety of payroll and employment issues. From employee payments, tax returns, to leave sharing, there are many areas of impact, and it may take a while before your company picks up to make enough income to cater to all its expenditure.
Assessing your risks and determining a recovery plan, such as budgeting for payroll without revenue, will help your company get back on its feet. To work this out, you should put aside a cash reserve that will come in handy during a rainy day, saving you from having to improvise a revenue-free budget for operations.
If your business is located in a disaster-prone area, you can make an annual budget to cater to this. A planned payroll helps you generate revenue faster after a disaster. Your preparedness will boost your image and credibility among your employees, as you’ll demonstrate your commitment to protecting them and their jobs.
Protecting your organization from natural disasters means creating an actionable plan containing recovery procedures that ensure the continuation of your operations. This will also support your company’s successful recovery.
So, it’s high time you started assessing your risks and developing a natural disaster protection plan for your company.
Heather Redding is a part-time assistant manager and writer based in Aurora, Illinois. She is also an avid reader and a tech enthusiast. When Heather is not working or writing, she enjoys her Kindle library with a hot cup of coffee. Reach out to her on Twitter.