Natural disasters can happen anywhere and at any time. Over the past several weeks North Texas has already suffered through several tornados – and the storm season has only now started. In 2019 our office building was heavily damaged by a storm. For several weeks our building was closed as they assessed the damage.
Tornados, hurricanes, and fires all seem to be growing in number and severity. Unfortunately, the SBA estimates that 25 percent of business that close due to a natural disaster never reopen. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) puts that number even higher, at 40 percent. So, it’s critical for a business owner to have detailed plans of how to keep their business operating in the event it’s affected by a natural disaster.
Be Proactive Concerning your Finances
Don’t assume that your bank and credit card companies will know that you’ve been affected by a natural disaster. Instead, you should contact your lending institution immediately and let them know you’ve been impacted. Most lenders will work with you to help you get back on track. In some cases, they will waive fees or allow you to defer payments.
Low-Interest Disaster Relief Financing
The SBA provides low-interest disaster loans to help businesses recover from declared disasters. One program provides loans to help businesses recover from property damages. The program offers terms up to 30 years, and interest rates of 4 percent or lower. The COVID EIDL is no longer taking new applications, but other loan programs are available to companies that suffered in a declared disaster zone.
Prepare for the Unexpected
As the old saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Planning before a disaster strikes can be the difference between surviving or becoming a statistic that closed doors. Be sure to include these items in your business continuity plan.
- Insurance- Have copies of all policies off site. Look into having business interruption insurance.
- Technology- Will you have the ability to move computers and servers. Do your employees have laptops? Is your software on the cloud? Will your employees have all necessary passwords to their jobs? Will your employees have access to Wi-Fi if they are force to work remotely.
- Keep a hard copy of customer list, vendor list and other important contacts. Also have a hard copy of employees contact information.
Have Scheduled Meetings with All Employees
Consider all of the things that keep your business running smoothly, and list what is necessary on a daily basis. Is all your software available on the cloud, or only on company servers? Make copies of necessary documents and contact lists onto flash drives. Have a plan to contact all employees and customers in the event of an emergency. Work with your office building management to review their Disaster Recovery Plan. Each employee should have a copy of your Disaster Recovery Plan and a clear understanding of their roll. Clear communication is key to everyone being able to do their job effectively from a safe location.
Plans should include protecting office & manufacturing equipment, computers, phones when there is impending sever weather. Hopefully, you will never need to implement your plan, but having a business continuity plan is great peace of mind.