September is National Preparedness Month and the theme of 2017 is based on planning with the slogan, “Disasters Don’t Plan Ahead. You Can.” As a business owner, planning before a disaster is even projected to affect your business is essential to keeping your customers, employees and your overall business safe.
The United States is subject to many natural disasters from earthquakes and hurricanes, to flooding and tornadoes; ensuring you’re prepared will help your business recover from these natural disasters. It is estimated that up to 40% of businesses affected by a natural disaster never recover or reopen. Don’t let this happen to your business.
Preparedness for Businesses
Make a plan. Your business preparedness plan should be based on these five things: Commitment to the plan, knowing what disasters could strike your business, emergency planning if it happens, ensuring the plan will work and how your business will overcome the disaster or emergency.
By developing a plan, your business will be able to keep operating the best that it can while you are responding and recovering from a disaster. This plan can be started by identifying essential functions that must continue as soon as possible. It can include specific vendor’s contact information, for example, so shipments can be re-routed or postponed.
Your files should be backed up in other electronic systems in case your work computers cannot be used, you’ll still be able to access vital information or have others do it for you from a different location.
Having insurance is the best way to be sure that your business will be protected when disaster strikes, in terms of financing at least. Before a disaster strikes, you’ll want to make sure you document your property by taking photos of the building, inside and out. Take time to really understand your coverage options because policies are all different from insurers.
Confirm that you have appropriate insurance coverage for various hazards that could possibly affect your business. For example, if you operate in Florida, North Carolina or Louisiana, you’ll want to make sure you have coverage for the possibility of a hurricane. If your business is in Texas, Kansas or Oklahoma, for example, you’ll want to have insurance for tornadoes.
Remember, if you operate your business from your home, it might not be covered by homeowners-insurance policies, so make sure you have a separate insurance policy for owning a business.
In addition to having property coverage, you will need liability coverage for payment of medical costs in case an employee is injured on your property. Insurance for a business vehicle, workers’ compensation or flood insurance should also be considered for your business to be fully prepared.
- Download emergency apps from FEMA to receive alerts from the National Weather Service, get safety reminders, locate shelters and more, as well as the Red Cross app.
- Assemble a disaster supplies kit, which should include water, food, flashlight, first aid kit, duct tape, warm blanket, cash, matches, etc.
- Identify the emergencies that would affect the area in which your business is located.
- Make an evacuation plan. You should establish a meeting place outside of your office building in case of a fire or other event that would require you and your employees to evacuate. You can even have a practice drill to exit the building quickly and efficiently in order to make sure every employee knows where the safe-meeting spot is.
- Know your employees roles. In the event of an emergency or disaster, some of your employees may be trained in first-aid or CPR and you should know who these individuals are before the disaster strikes.
- Have the necessary safety equipment. In addition to your emergency kit of supplies, your office should be equipped with a fire extinguisher, smoke detectors and all employees should know where these are located.
- It is recommended for businesses to always have enough money to operate for three to six months after a disaster in order to keep your business running. If you are just starting a business, you might be focused on having enough money to get into the next week, but once you get your business running successfully, revisit the checklist for National Preparedness Month to protect your business from a natural disaster or emergency.
It’s hard to prepare for a possible natural disaster if you currently are trying to have enough cash to pay facility expenses, employee payroll and purchase new equipment. If your cash flow is low right now, see if factoring is right for your small business, whether you’re a startup or an established business.