The best strategy for a small business dealing with natural disasters and other emergencies is over-preparation, redundancy and communication. An extensive plan of action, created well before the stress of an emergency situation, will prove invaluable to a small business displaced by crime, fire, flood or other natural disasters. Waiting until an event occurs (or is just about to) is way too late.
A well-run business is organized by a series of separate but collaborative plans: Business Plan, Organizational Chart, Revenue Model, Marketing Strategy and Crisis Management Plan. Too often, the crisis management plan is only focused on immediate needs such as safety protocols, lockdown/evacuation and first responder coordination. Well-written crisis management plans also contain systems for internal communications, media relations and reputation management. These plans keep an organization viable while a crisis occurs and in the immediate time-frame after. Where business leaders often fail is waiting to “see how bad the damage is” before making recovery plans. This mistake can be catastrophic.
Planning recovery is just as essential as planning emergency response. When a situation is chaotic, there is no time for backing up files, moving hard copies off-site or locking down access to your bank accounts and credit cards. Access to tax records, insurance and bank deposits can stop your business dead in its tracks. Without a redundancy plan in place, what’s lost in a disaster is gone forever.
In today’s business world, data is as valuable as currency. Losing the information that helps guide your business can have a hugely negative effect on your organization’s ability to rebuild. Exposing your customers, employees and vendors private information the outside world can ruin more than just your business. Having recoverable off-site data and hard copy backups with security protocols in place before you need them will save you time, cost and potential liability. Having a plan in place makes protecting and replacing what is lost to a fire, flood or theft is not just possible, but easy to manage.
Your preparation, planning and redundancy are worthless unless business leaders, key employees and responsible parties understand their roles in the emergency response process. Communication and training make a plan actionable. Regular training and access to protocols will ensure your team knows what to do when the time comes. When everyone plays their role, the outcome is secure.
Just like insurance and security personnel, you need to have a well-developed emergency response and recovery plan in place with the hopes of never needing it. But if you do need it, the time and effort spent will replay itself many time over. Your emergency response planning and preparation may even save your business after the fire is put out or the storm has passed.
We create all types of plans for businesses and non-profits on a regular basis. Business and marketing plans are utilized on a daily basis and help organizations be successful. But, nothing has a single bigger impact on an organization than crisis management and emergency response planning. These type situations occur 100% outside your control. You cannot wait to act. Having a plan in place makes that possible and keeps bad situations from becoming devastating. Preparation, communication and implementation will get your business through emergency situations.