Almost half of all small businesses are unable to reopen after a major disaster because they were unprepared, according to the American Red Cross. Ask yourself: How could I continue to conduct business if the city or even just the streets near my building are closed? How could I serve my customers if my facility was closed for several months? Could my business survive if it was closed for several weeks or months?
Even if you can stay in business, you may not be able to contact your customers or obtain important deliveries. To combat these risks, consider these useful suggestions.
- Gather a list of vendors and telephone numbers of individuals and entities critical to your daily operations. If you heavily rely on one or two vendors, consider adding a backup outside your area.
- Prepare a list of companies that can help you recover by removing debris, moving, providing computer services and other essentials.
- Provide employees with a chain of command and list of responsibilities if a disaster strikes.
- Prepare a list of your employees, with contact information. Also find out where they may go if required to evacuate the city.
- Arrange now for after-disaster communication with your clients and customers.
- Constantly diversify your customer base, products and sales locations. This will prevent a major loss if most of your customers are also affected by the hurricane.
- Back up your data frequently and keep backups off-site.
Have adequate insurance to protect against losses. A careful review of your policies with your insurance agent will help identify your needs and the coverage that is right for you.
Beyond your typical policies, consider flood insurance and business interruption coverage. Also, have your business appraised every five years, with records readily available and stored in a secure off-site location.
And conduct an inventory of your supplies and equipment, including photographs and descriptions. Then store this information in an off-site location for safekeeping.