Unsolicited Advice: Hurricane Preparedness for Business Owners.
When one writes about preparedness, the usual response is to continue scrolling down the feed. However, knowing this information is critical for business owners, I was inspired to challenge the status quo and write: Unsolicited Advice.
This one is no different. While the Northeast Pacific prepares for the upcoming typhoon season (May 15th – November 30th) and the Northern Atlantic Ocean area and the Caribbean prepare for the hurricane season (June 1st – November 30th), business owners continue their daily tasks without considering what a hurricane or typhoon season could represent for their businesses.
Remember last year? Just as recent as 2016, Hurricane Matthew caused damages of over 15 billion dollars in the US and the Caribbean. Although some have become numb to natural disaster news, we all know how it looks when it happens. Families are displaced, coastal communities are forced to evacuate and leave behind everything. For businesses, it is not only about the facing risks regarding structural and financial losses, but also regarding workforce.
One of the most important topics to consider is the abilities of a business to withstand an interruption, and recover from shutdowns. These abilities make the difference between the businesses that recover and survive and those who will either never bounce back and open after the shutdown, or even worse, those who re-open but will slowly struggle to death.
As of October 2016, Dun and Bradstreet had identified 278,997 potentially impacted businesses across 4 states, and this is just by Hurricane Matthew. Although I firmly believe the beginning of hurricane season or typhoon season is not the best time to start planning, it is always better to start now, rather than wait until it’s too late. So, here is my unsolicited advice for business owners:
- Know your risks:
“A risk assessment is the first step. That is the way to know what are you against to, and how to plan for it.”
If your business is in a flood prone area, this is the time to create an evacuation plan. How long are you going to wait? What will be the trigger to start moving? Are you waiting for the mandatory order? Will you give your staff time to take care of their homes?
If your business is in a coastal community, it’s time to verify your insurance policies and make sure potential damages are covered. One of the most common struggles I see is finding out too late that insurance coverage was not enough to repair and re-open after a natural event.
If your business is in a metro area, be aware of traffic pattern changes and congestion. Also, if there is construction going on, consider the risks that a construction brings regarding drainage issues, debris, traffic patterns, etc.
You need not create a scientific matrix of potential risks and consequences, or come up with an algorithm of risks vs. possibilities. Instead, you just need to start with the most common events and plan for them.
2.Plan for business interruptions:
“It is not a matter of hurricane or typhoon seasons; it is a matter of being prepared for interruptions.”
Sometimes, your business will face interruptions even when the hurricane is hundreds of miles away. You cannot be 100% certain that winds will not cause damages, or high tides will force authorities to close roads near your area. So, planning for interruptions is preparedness.
A disaster will not necessarily be an area or general disaster, but it can be a disaster only for you and your business. Imagine, your equipment fails or completely collapses due to a power outage, and when you contact the repair service or replacement company, you are advised that no delivery or repairs can be scheduled until two weeks later. This event could be a long-term interruption, or a disaster if your business cannot operate. What would you do? I recommend you always plan for interruptions and purchase insurance for business interruptions. Although it will have some limitations, it is always better to be safe than sorry.
I also recommend having a plan c for the plan b. Most business owners don’t even have a plan b in place; it’s always on their minds, but during times of crisis, they forget what they were supposed to do and start improvising. The problem is that improvisation is normally a disorganized attempt to stay alive and could lead to duplication of efforts and misuse of limited resources. An alternate plan, developed ahead of time, will decrease inefficiencies and will help you take focused actions.
Plan, gather resources and be ready for whatever comes your way.
3.Protection, security, and due diligence:
“Protect your assets; including your staff, secure facilities as much as you can and practice due diligence, prudence, and responsibility.”
The actions you take now will make a difference when a disaster strikes. It is no secret! That’s why protecting your assets in all possible ways, will determine your business’ ability to bounce back.
- Back up your critical information frequently; keep more than one copy.
- Make copies of important documents in more than one format (digital format, remote server or cloud, and physical copies).
- Train your staff on emergency/disaster plans (human error and un-trained employees are additional risks).
- Determine the best course of action now, and develop step-by-step plans.
- Install layers of security (physical and virtual) for facilities, systems, and information.
- Remove additional risks: physical, behavioral, operational, etc.
In the end, we won’t be able to prevent all occurrences, but we can do what is possible to the best of our abilities. Preparedness will save you time and money in your recovery efforts. How are your preparedness efforts going? Do you need help?
Let’s talk about your business! Book a virtual coffee with me and let’s talk about your business’ preparedness needs. I will give you a road map to follow and prepare for any event. (Spaces are limited).
**This article was originally published on LinkedIn Pulse, you can find the original article here. Unsolicited Advice: Hurricane Preparedness for Businesses.