Natural disasters like tornadoes, hurricanes, typhoons, and floods come with a lot of collateral damage which affects homes and infrastructure. They also affect our businesses, which are sources of livelihood for many.
Imagine building your enterprise from the ground up, only for it to be dissipated in hours or seconds by the freaks of nature! So how can you prepare your business to weather the storm in the face of a sudden natural disaster? Here’s my ‘Hitchhiker’s guide’ to business disaster preparedness.
1. Safety Protocols
All lives matter, human resource is the backbone of any business. So having Standard Operating-Procedures(S0Ps) for disaster preparedness can mitigate any occupational risks during such times.
Simulating disaster drills can also go a long way in disaster preparedness if employees know emergency exits and evacuation protocols. Keeping a well-equipped disaster kit is commended too, and it should come complete with survival supplies for at least 3 days.
2. Data Backup
Yes backups are quite the norm now. But having a ‘backup’ of your backup is advisable. Having an extra digital location where your most sensitive documents, emails as well as digital records and databases are stored.
This can allow you to switch to a ‘virtual business’ till the dust settles and enable you to work and deliver remotely. It gives your business a much needed lifeline as virtual records can help in the rebuilding process a lot. Be sure that your backups are done frequently and can be automated.
3. Insurance Cover
Get yourself flood insurance if your geographic code is prone to weather disasters. The average flood insurance policy costs about $800 and most Insurance companies now offer business interruption policies, property as well as disaster packages at good premiums.
Statistics show that 2 in 5 businesses open after natural disaster. So, to help alleviate the hustles of reopening, insurance could come in handy. I’d advise you take time to meet your insurance agent to ponder over business insurance covers.
4. Infrastructure Precautions
Considering the barrage of destruction Hurricane Harvey brought on the Texas Gulf-Coast causing property damage of up to $80bn, certain measures and precautions can’t be ignored. This is especially so when it comes to the resilience and structural safety of your work premise. Be sure to do a structural audit on your location and assess any possibilities of vulnerability.
Do take time to verify that your business location meets specified building codes. Also surely endeavor to test and service the premise emergency generator under load. If weather disaster strikes, do make an effort to use protective material such as plywood to seal off windows. You can also secure first floor doorways with sandbags while relocating your most sensitive office equipment to innermost portions of the building.
5. Emergency Savings
An Indian friend told me once “In India we save for a rainy day, because it basically rains every day”. That could explain why many Asians are good at saving because they understand that nature can’t be negotiated with.
As a rule of thumb, it’s advisable for businesses to save 20% of their profit per month into an ‘Emergency Trust’. On top of the insurance monies or low interest loans from the Office of Disaster-Assistance, this money can reduce the burden of loss of assets on your business.
We saw the adverse effects of Hurricane Katrina on employment and the New Orleans economy, they can still be felt 13 years later. Bad news never has good timing and at times one can never be too prepared. However, if you take the above precautions chances of salvaging your business are way better.