Is Your Business Ready for Nature’s Worst?

Sep 21, 2011


Natural disasters can take a huge toll on small business fleets; In the wake of Hurricane Irene’s track across parts of the US in early September, 11,000 applications for federal disaster loans were made to the U.S. Small Business Administration.

James Rivera, associate administrator of the SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance, said in a statement that he believes that number would be much smaller if those businesses had been prepared for disaster before it struck.

Between 15 percent and 40 percent of businesses fail after a man-made or natural disaster, according to the Insurance Information Institute. But only 35 percent have a plan.

“From the SBA’s perspective, if you have a solid business continuity plan in place, you really won’t need a disaster loan from us,” Rivera said. “That never hurts my feelings. We never get hurt at the SBA if you don’t need a disaster loan.”

Rivera shared some tips for preparing your business for disasters:

  • Assess your risk, both internally and externally. Look at what emergencies have occurred in the past, and whether your location is at a physical risk for future damage.
  • Assess critical business functions.
  • Prepare your supply chain. Talk to vendors and find alternatives to back up primary suppliers.
  • Create an emergency management plan for your employees.
  • Back up your computer data.
  • Create a crisis communications plan with up-to-date contact information for all employees, vendors and other business partners.
  • Assemble an emergency supply kit that includes important records, contact information and cash.
  • Review your insurance coverage.
  • Plan for an alternate location if your primary location is unusable.
  • Exercise your plan. Put it on paper and test it regularly.

“Hopefully, it’ll improve your chances of staying in business, staying in the game once disaster does strike,” Rivera said. “It doesn’t matter where you live. Being prepared just helps.”

[via Philly Burbs]

Photo courtesy of Infrogmation and re-used under the Creative Commons license.