No business owner wants to think about facing disaster, but each should be prepared for one. With the right planning, catastrophes from fires to floods can be reduced to substantial challenges on the long road of ownership. Follow these tips to be prepared.
Prepare an Evacuation Box
Purchase a lockable “evacuation box” to hold important documents such as prior year tax returns and insurance policies. The box should also contain a list of numbers and contact information for bank accounts, loans, credit cards, investment accounts and other key information. Some documents can be saved as PDF copies and stored on a flash drive. The box should also store a small amount of traveler’s checks or cash.
Store Evacuation Box in a Safe Place
Make copies of evacuation box contents and store in a safe deposit box at another location, and let someone you trust know where to find it.
Check your insurance coverage and address any shortfalls.
For example, business interruption insurance may be a consideration depending on your location and factors like vehicle and pedestrian traffic that are needed to support your business.
Inventory possessions through video recording, and make a back-up list of items.
This documentation, or a catalog of photos, could help you prove the value of damaged/destroyed property, gain faster payment from the insurance company on losses, and provide evidence for tax deductions for losses.
Establish an emergency fund, saving until you can cover six months of basic expenses.
Back Up Data
Back up your data and plan a backup work location so you can keep servicing customers, for example taking and fulfilling orders. A backup location could be a home office or even the workplace of another business owner you know. Online access is critical, and physical space can help with product inventory.
Know what to do in a crisis.
Have a communication plan for employees, suppliers and customers and make sure you have employee emergency contact forms.
Be ready for smaller threats and you’ll be equipped to cope with larger ones.
Simple steps like having smoke detectors and a fire extinguisher can make a big difference. While frequently backing up data helps mitigate more common risks with human or software error, it also helps in more serious cases like a complete hardware meltdown or destruction from major flooding or fire. Preparations like these can go a long way in helping ensure the health of critical assets.
Recommended Books on Disaster Preparedness for Your Small Business:
- Prepare for the Worst, Plan for the Best: Disaster Preparedness and Recovery for Small Businesses
- Business Continuity Guideline: A Practical Approach for Emergency Preparedness, Crisis Management, and Disaster Recovery
- Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery: Getting Started Guide Concepts and Definitions for Common Sense Planning
- Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery: Getting Ready Guide. Assessments & Checklists
- Emergency Preparedness for Facilities: A Guide to Safety Planning and Business Continuity
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