Would Your Business Survive a Major Disaster?
According to the Insurance Institute for Business, an estimated 25 percent of businesses do not reopen following a major disaster. What happens to your business after a disaster often depends on what you do before a disaster. For small businesses, surviving a disaster doesn’t begin with cleaning the debris and returning to work. Surviving begins long before a disaster strikes with proper planning.
The earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan should make us all realize just how fragile life can be, and how powerful the forces of nature are. Events like these are both unpredictable and unforgiving. Japan was, and remains to be, one of the best prepared countries in the world when it comes to earthquakes and tsunami preparedness.
I shudder to think how a natural disaster would impact not only my business, but other businesses in Medina County. The only piece of mind is preparedness. An ounce of preparation is worth a pound of cure or, to put it in business terms, a relatively small investment in time can more than offset a tremendous amount of expense.
Let me be the first local business to admit that I do not have a Disaster Preparedness Plan.
The recent events in Japan have made it clear that a Disaster Preparedness Plan can help protect my employees and limit the damages we may suffer all while getting back to business sooner. A proper plan will allow my company to fulfill a moral responsibility to our employees and the community. When businesses survive, businesses help the whole community recover from a disaster quicker.
I would encourage all local businesses to consider authoring your own Disaster Preparedness Plan. They can range from the very basic to extremely detailed. I am learning that at a minimum, a Disaster Preparedness Plan should include:
· Develop a post disaster communication strategy with your employees. Keep a list of all contact phone numbers, including their cell phone numbers where you can leave messages.
· Leave a written emergency message at the entrance to your business. This will advise emergency personnel how to reach you in case of damage, looting, or other problems at your business.
· Bring your vendor contact information. You can contact them and let them know of the emergency. Most vendors will put a note in your file and extend terms on any payables.
· Consider forwarding your business telephone to your cell phone or another phone number where you can be reached.
· Maintain offsite backup copies of all critical information including tax, accounting, payroll and customer data.
Other sources of information that you may find helpful include your insurance carrier, FEMA, the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the American Red Cross just to name a few.