Natural disasters can be devastating to the communities and people impacted by them, and small businesses who happen to stand in Mother Nature's way can have an extremely difficult time recovering. That's why it is critical, regardless of where you live, that you plan for the worst as the livelihoods of your business and the people it employs are on the line.
Below are some relatively simple steps small business owners can take, which shouldn't set you back too much, and can make all the difference in the world when disaster strikes.
1. Utilize A Climate-Controlled Storage Facility
One thing you can do to prepare for the worst is to rent out an off-site storage facility. Here, you can keep materials or copies of materials (and data) critical to your business operations in case your business is physically destroyed or badly damaged from a fire, flood, earthquake, tornado, hurricane, etc. It's important to make sure you're getting a facility that is climate-controlled, however.
2. Develop a Preparedness Program
Part of preparing for disaster is simply having a plan in place. The Department of Homeland Security runs the website, Ready.gov, that will help you come up with one. It walks you through a five-step process that includes:
● Program management
● Testing and Exercises
● Program Improvement
3. Figure Out Your Insurance Needs
This will vary depending on what part of the country you live in, but you need to identify the disasters that are most likely to occur in your place of operation. If disaster strikes, what kind of disaster is it most likely to be? Research insurance options related to what you come up with.
In fact, it's a good idea to simply contact your insurance agent - or multiple insurance companies - about insurance options related to disaster preparedness.
4. Make Sure Your Plan Is Up To Date
Even if you already have a plan in place, you should review it periodically (annually perhaps) to see if it can be improved in any way in light of new information or events. Changes that could make a difference could range from a significant change in headcount or location to changes in data or reliance on certain data. Just go over your plan and make sure it still makes sense for your business in its present form.
5. Don't Forget About Smaller-Scale Disasters
While it's super important to be prepared for natural disasters, the chances that you'll have to deal with one anytime soon are still relatively small, though, they can be greater depending on where you operate.
"Major disasters, such as earthquakes and large-scale power outages, are rare," says PrepareMyBusiness.org. "Smaller disasters, such as server failure, burst pipes and fires however happen every day. Companies often prepare for the worst, but forget the everyday challenges, which can be just as crippling."