Disasters are everywhere. We see the devastation caused most recently by Hurricane Michael, and our hearts go out to those in the Mexico Beach and Panama City areas in Florida. In the north, we see a “winter-like” storm about to “unload” on the northeastern states. Over in Saipan a typhoon is battering down. These are just the natural disasters, continually popping up to throw a wrench in our routines. What about other types of disasters? Something a little smaller, but still disruptive such as; a failed server, a building fire, a burst plumbing pipe, or even the flu!
Unforeseen circumstances can occur suddenly without a warning at any time, threatening to limit your business capabilities. You can’t take the risk of not planning ahead to ensure that safety measures are in place to guarantee that “the show must go on!”. We have put together a Basic 10 Step Plan to help you prepare a Plan of Action in the case of an emergency.
- Assess internal and external risk factors.
This is a process that you should have built into your mind, constantly evaluating circumstances to target potential risk factors. Begin with your region and what natural disasters are most likely to affect you. Hurricanes? Earthquakes? Tsunamis? Typhoons? Snow storms? Flooding? Next you should consider things that would affect your internal operations, such as flu season, family emergencies, human error or technology failure. Recognizing the most likely scenarios will help move you towards solutions.
- Analyze your critical business functions.
Take a close look, evaluate and document the way your business functions. Which personnel, equipment and processes are critical for your daily operations? You should create a list and of those critical components ( billing, payroll, fulfillment, etc. ) and develop alternatives methods to complete each of those components, should there be an interruption.
- Plan for an alternate location.
These days we have a lot more options when it comes to working from different physical locations. This is greatly dependent on the type of business you are running, but already many businesses are creating alternative working spaces for employees to complete work remotely. Depending on the type of disaster and how long you will need to function out-of-the-office, have at least two options ready – one that is close by and one that is perhaps out of the county or state. Check out the options for “Day Offices” in the two different areas, or even have a satellite office building that is prepared to take you and critical staff members on.
- Consider supply chain preparedness.
Speak to your vendors and find out if they themselves have a disaster plan in place. Seek out and develop relationships with alternative vendors in case you need to seek out replacements. According to recent surveys, less than half American businesses have a disaster plan or business continuity plan set up to prepare for interruptions in business. This is just another reason to cover all your bases.
- Ensure employees and their families are prepared for disasters both at work and at home.
Of course, your most valuable asset is your staff. Without your reliable employees, most of these preparation methods would inevitable fail. Be sure to educate your employees on the importance of planning ahead for a disaster, in their own homes. Share the critical components of your disaster plan with your staff and specifically outline their individual roles in your preparation to make sure the execution of your plan is flawless when the time comes.
- Back up your data and practice restoring your technology.
I think in this current time it is no secret how important backing up your information can be. Websites, computer systems, important information, etc. Everything you need to keep copies of should be listed and there should be a system assigned to ensure each important piece has a backup plan. If your business is small, it could be as easy as using Google Drive, Dropbox or something similar to store files. Larger businesses may need an actual backup server.
- Create an employee, vendor and key client communication plan.
Have a 24-Hour phone tree – a system in which each person is responsible for reaching an assigned individual or group – for all employees are able to stay updated on crucial information. A designated phone number with updated recordings, or even a Facebook Group dedicated to updates within your business can be used.
Another important consideration is a method for keeping clients / customers updated. A VOIP system is a great way to transfer calls from the office to your phone through an app. Another option is to have an answering service provide a personalized touch and update for any concerned clients. Major updates and encouragement that you have everything under control should be posted to all social media accounts and website.
- Assemble an emergency kit.
Emergency kits should be assembled containing fresh water, non-perishable food items, flashlights, extra batteries, battery-powered AM/Fm radio, first aid kit, and copies of vital documents. In addition, your it should contain petty cash, a corporate letterhead, software licensing keys, passwords and other sensitive documents that may not be able to do uploaded to a backup system online.
- Regularly review your business insurance coverage.
Do you know what your policy will cover? After completing the initial steps in this action plan, is there anything you would revisit? Having a conversation with your agent at intervals to assess your coverage will ensure that your insurance plan is up-to-date and covering all your needs, should an emergency arise.
- Test your plan.
Make sure to put your plan into practice and test it at least once per year. During those times, it is wise to create an outline for employees with any important information they should need during a disaster. Ensure that everyone knows their role in case of a crisis, and keep all policies up-to-date as necessary.
Spare no expense
Keeping your business guarded with backup software, emergency items and funds is incredibly important. Investing in the business disaster plan should not be something to wait until the last minute. Evaluate what is needed to prepare the most critical aspects of your business. Many businesses will include this in the start-up costs or Start-Up Loans / Business Loans. When you are starting a new business, it only makes sense to protect your investment with a business disaster plan.
Unsecured Finances has over 10 years in the consulting business! We specialized in educating and assisting clients on acquiring Unsecured Business Loans and Start-Up Business Specialty Loans including; Unsecured No Documentation (No-Doc Stated Income) Loans, Unsecured Business Loans, and Unsecured Start-Up Business Loans and Lines of Credit from $10,000 to $500,000 without Assets.
Apply on our website to find out if you qualify, or call today for a free consultation: 1-888-294-2584