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Natural disasters and emergencies can happen at any time to any company, even if your business isn’t situated in a high-risk area. From forest fires to earthquakes and hurricanes, forces of nature tend to strike quite suddenly, leaving a noticeable impact on businesses of all types and sizes. Depending on the situation, it could take days, months, or even years for a company to get back to regular operations after an emergency. With careful planning and effective communication, however, this process can be accelerated and the overall impact minimized. Here are some ways you could prepare your business for natural disasters and emergencies:
Develop an emergency plan
Consider what would happen to your business in case of an emergency. In the following hours and days, who would be in charge of the business? Will your teams have the option to work remotely? How would you contact your employees without internet access? Does everyone know where emergency exits and kits are located on your premises? If you’ve struggled to answer these questions, you must develop a detailed emergency operations plan for your business. It should include important aspects such as defining leadership during a natural disaster, determining alternative business operations, investing in different methods of communication, developing evacuation plans, purchasing emergency kits, etc. Consult your employees to ensure the plan is suitable and well-known.
Back up your critical data
Regardless of the potential risks your business might be facing, protecting important business information is a critical step. Pay special attention to the paperwork, as it can be particularly susceptible to damage during natural disasters. Collect basic paperwork such as tax forms, payroll information, and insurance claims, organize it accordingly, make copies if necessary, and store it in an off-site location. Don’t overlook the advantages of the cloud either. You can scan, upload, and sync documents into a cloud-based storage system, thus creating backups of critical electronic files. This will enable you to easily access important information from any location and keep your company running smoothly despite the setbacks.
Prioritize disaster preparedness
Along with protecting your data, it will be vital to focus on incident response preparedness as well. This includes performing a risk assessment, doing a business impact analysis, planning for emergencies, minimizing impact, mitigating and making compromises, preparing for disaster, developing response teams, writing emergency plans, establishing time-limited emergency responses, including salvage and recovery, and similar crucial steps. Although necessary, developing a preparedness plan can also be a logistically complex process. Leveraging emergency preparedness software might be the best course of action, enabling you to allocate resources correctly, organize and activate emergency teams, and
manage operational cycles effectively.
Consider insurance options
As already mentioned, insurance claims should be backed up in case a natural disaster affects your business. But it’s also recommended to meet with an insurance advisor, review your existing coverage, and consider different business insurance options that might suit your company more. If you worry about your properties, for instance, it might be wise to analyze the limits of your current policy to ensure it provides a suitable cover for a full replacement. You might even realize that you need to purchase additional coverage outside of your company’s general policies, based on your area of operation and its potential risks.
Maintain good communication
Every good emergency plan must emphasize communication and how it will be maintained during and after the natural disaster. Mainly, this means having the ability to communicate with your team through the internet, mobile networks, transceivers, and other channels. Inform everyone of the procedures they should follow and the operations they are expected to maintain and make an effort to contact each employee individually to make sure they’re safe. It would also be beneficial to communicate with your customers via press releases, social media posts, and emails. Tell them how the disaster has impacted your business, inform them of any closures or delays, and provide alternative contact information in case they have any questions.
Regroup in the community
When small businesses are affected by natural disasters and other emergencies, they typically don’t come out unscathed. This is particularly true for companies located in high-risk areas. It will often take plenty of time, effort, and resources to rebuild a business after such situations, and it might even shutter certain companies entirely. Whether your business was hit hard by the emergency or you were lucky enough to resume normal operations, it’s always a good idea to reach out to other local businesses after a natural disaster. This approach will allow you to get back up and running, help other entrepreneurs to weather the storm, and even build trust and reliability within your community.
Often unpredictable and at times entirely devastating, natural disasters can be quite difficult to manage. However, creating a detailed plan and preparing for emergencies in advance will aid in protecting your business and ensuring its future regardless of the circumstances.