Make sure your small business is prepared for the worst
Small business natural disaster preparation should be handled as a mission-critical task. FEMA explained that between 40 percent and 60 percent of small businesses never reopen their doors when hit by a natural disaster. What’s more, 90 percent of small businesses fail if they can’t resume operations within five days. Larger businesses are typically more resilient. That’s, in part, because 20 percent of them devote 10 days of labor per month to continuity planning. Still, 20 percent of all businesses spend no time on maintaining their disaster plan.
The results of a disaster event can be drastic. But small business natural disaster preparation can help you stay afloat. Here are some ways you can get your small business ready should disaster unfortunately strike.
Separate Continuity and Recovery
When disaster strikes, it’s easy for panic to take hold. Having a plan is key to responding effectively in any emergency. But before you formalize your small business natural disaster preparation, you need to think about the difference between business continuity and disaster recovery. The lines between these issues often blur. The resulting confusion can limit your ability to recover.
In short, business continuity is about keeping operations running in the event of a disaster. Disaster recovery is a matter of getting up and running again after an incident.
It’s vital to understand what operations either must continue through a disaster or can be reasonably maintained in such an event. This lets you focus on the most critical issues when disaster strikes and then prioritize recovery when the time comes.
Small business natural disaster preparation is easier when you can clearly separate continuity and recovery efforts.
Safeguard Your Key Assets
Important records, IT systems and cash stored on-site are all critical. If you don’t have a recovery plan, it’s going to take longer to get everything up and running. It’s important to have processes in place for backup systems that can either kick in if systems fail or maintain your applications and data so you can recover quickly after the disaster. Don’t let a flooded file cabinet slow your business to a crawl because you’ve lost critical data. Back up those files in a remote location.
As businesses depend more on cloud computing, small business natural disaster preparation is easier. More IT assets are located off-site when hosted in the cloud. At the same time, apps and data are accessible online. What’s more, workers can function from any location. This adds a degree of resiliency to your business. It helps you maintain continuity or recover quickly. However, you’ll need to make sure your cloud providers are equipped for disaster. It’s also vital to train your workers so they’ll be comfortable using the technology from remote locations.
Formalize and Practice Your Plans
Protecting your assets is only part of the small business natural disaster preparation process. You also need a formal strategy to communicate with employees and customers, assess the results of a disaster, and reopen for business. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce recommends businesses form a team to create this plan and test their tactics at least once a year.
Consider Financing as Part of Your Small Business Natural Disaster Preparation
If you’re seeking a loan after a disaster occurs, it’s probably too late. While small business lenders can often provide emergency business loans, it still takes time for you to get back to the office, apply for the loan, and put the money to work. Small, short-term loans can quickly offer working capital to withstand and recover from a disaster. If a major weather event is expected, apply for a loan in advance. If your business is an area with frequent seasonal storms or other weather events, consider getting a loan heading into the period of risk.
It’s understandable to be worried about a natural disaster and its potential effects on your business. A small business loan can give you peace of mind and help you recover quickly.
Written by: Ben Gold, QuickBridge
Ben Gold is president of QuickBridge, a privately-held financial services firm providing small business loans and short-term working capital solutions for businesses nationwide. Based on its growth, QuickBridge has ranked two consecutive years on the Inc. 500 Fastest Growing American Companies list. Ben is a recognized thought leader in the fintech space and a contributing member of the Forbes Finance Council.