Fires, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, and extreme weather are threats we are experiencing more regularly due to climate change. This is getting close to home. We have been watching the Caldor fire ravage through California and move in close to many of our customers and a local Singletrack CPA. We know that proper planning for our businesses in case of disasters can be extremely beneficial, but why have so few people taken the time to plan it out and write it down. It could take days, weeks, months or even years depending on circumstances to get back to normal. With the news outlets lighting up with one natural disaster after another, you may be wondering how you can best prepare your business physically and financially for unforeseeable events. Especially if you’re located in an area prone to natural disaster such as coastal areas, listen up. Even if you’re not located in those areas, this information can be valuable to any business owner as disaster can strike anywhere.
Have a Plan
When your business is threatened by a disaster event such as a hurricane or wildfire, the time has already passed when you should have been planning. No business owner expects the worst to happen, but those doomsday planners may be onto something. Start Today! The plan should include such things as how will your business operate if the physical location is threatened, who will be in charge to delegate tasks, who will communicate with employees on a game plan, basic safety protocols such as where and how to evacuate the building, and having an emergency kit available.
With these types of disaster scenarios happening more frequently, it should come as a no brainer to have insurance. Even if you have a policy in place, it’s a good idea to go over the plan with your current insurance company and make sure you’re covered as much as possible if a claim were to arise. If you’re in a high risk area such as California, you may find you need to up your coverage. A large bill caused by a natural disaster can be detrimental to a small business. Insurance will lessen the financial burden and can also cover income lost during such an event. Get insured!
Communicate with Clients
Letting clients know you will not be completing their work on time may be last on your mind as you’re navigating challenges. Having a system in place even if that’s an emergency autoresponder email will save you more work down the road. Rather than having clients emailing or calling you to ask when their project will be done, having a message in place ahead of time will inform them and save you headaches. You may even have a backup person or company that you outsource that can help them in case of an emergency. Have that established before you end up in that scenario.
Protect Your Greatest Assets – Your Employees
Keeping yourself and your employees safe should be your top priority. Create an emergency plan in case a disaster comes on suddenly. Examples include evacuation routes, check in points, and a system to account for all employees. Having a form of communication such as text alerts to keep them informed and warned not to come to work if there are hazards. Once you have a plan in place, take a trip down memory lane to elementary school and perform disaster drills so your employees are fully prepared. And remember, prepare for worst case scenarios.
Life Comes First
You can be as prepared as possible for these unforeseen circumstances but our last piece of advice and most important is that life comes first. Preserving human life should be at the forefront of business’s emergency plans. Even after you have ensured that everyone is safe, the plan should focus on how to keep your employees comfortable. Since natural disasters can handicap businesses for the foreseeable future, having systems in place can make certain that your employees will not only have physical safety but job security as well so they can get back on their feet. People are irreplaceable. Make sure you put people first when creating disaster plans.
Starting a business is hard as it is. Add in a natural disaster and you have yourself a stressful situation. By having plans in place and safeguarding your business, it will make it a little less stressful. Knowing that your business and employees are well protected will ease your mind so you can focus on your own safety and navigate more smoothly to the changes ahead.
At Singletrack Accounting, we know that with some preparation, you will be able to handle anything that life throws your way. We know small businesses and we are here to help you. Our business coaches can either help you create or go over your disaster plan with you. Reach out for a free consultation.