Keeping Your Business Prepared in the Face of Disaster

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business disaster preparedness

As the height of hurricane season approaches, is your business prepared for power outages, flooding, property damage, lost work time and more? According to the New Jersey Business Action Center, up to 40 percent of small businesses never re-open following a disaster.

Don Newman, Director of Small Business Advocacy, New Jersey Business Action Center (BAC)  has five recommended strategies to help small businesses ride out the next big storm:

Maintain an Emergency Contact List

When preparing for an emergency, it is important to keep a mobile phone/email list of employees, suppliers and customers and circulate it to key staff members. A business owner should leave extra keys and the alarm code with a trusted employee or friend. Be sure to forward the business’s phone line to an accessible mobile phone during the emergency and that you can access business emails remotely.

Finally, it is crucial to train and prepare an ancillary workforce that could fill in for your team if needed.

Make Sure Your Insurance is Current

Review your insurance coverage with an agent or your insurance center. Specifically, check the status of your business’s interruption insurance. If disaster occurs, you can file a business interruption insurance claim detailing lost income and steps required before the business can reopen.

Business owners will also want to keep copies of all important documents in the cloud and/or off-site, including employee and supplier contact information, customer lists and backups of computer files.

Prepare a Disaster Supply Kit

Inspect your building(s) in advance to determine what impact a disaster could have on the facility. Have a disaster supply kit handy that includes a battery-powered radio to access National Weather Service information, a battery-powered electronic device charger, a first aid kit, a fire extinguisher, flashlights, extra batteries, waterproof plastic bags and more.

Organize Your Financial Statements

Gather sales records, profit and loss statements and income tax forms in advance as you will need these, along with records of extra expenses incurred, for an insurance adjuster.

As a proactive precaution, file duplicate copies of financial documents offsite and/or in the cloud. Consider financial obligations you will have during interruption, such as payroll and debt service.

Reopen When Your Space is Safe for Employees

Make sure your building is clean and safe before allowing employees – your most valuable business asset – to return. Contact your insurance agency to have the building inspected prior to re-opening, and assess the damage done to the building and inventory.  Have your electric, gas, phone and water service restored before you re-open the building for employees, customers and suppliers.

Although we can’t prevent natural disasters, business owners can take proactive measures to minimize disruption and reduce loss so you can return to normal operations as soon as possible.

Hurricane Aftermath Photo via Shutterstock

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  1. Excellent suggestions. One more thing I would add is also looking at your IT infrastructure and ensure you have backup and disaster recovery plan in place.