Unlike with hurricanes, there is no “natural disaster season”—they can strike at any time. That’s why every year in September the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) sponsors National Preparedness Month.
Being prepared is not just for Boy Scouts and individuals—it’s also crucial for small business owners. If you own a small business, a natural disaster could be, well, disastrous. According to FEMA, 25 percent of small businesses never reopen following a disaster.
Don’t let a natural disaster cause your small business to fold. Plan now before a disaster such as a hurricane or fire affects your business. Here are four tips to get you started.
1. Assess your risks.
What natural disasters could affect your business? In the Bradenton/Sarasota area, these include hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, and fires.
Do you own your own building? Do you have inventory or equipment to protect? What about vehicles used in your business?
Once you know the risks your business faces, and the assets you want to protect, you can move to the second step.
2. Make a disaster plan.
Depending on what type of business you own, your plan could include things like:
Locations of evacuation routes and emergency exits and a plan for using them—for you, your employees, or customers.
Communication plans for employees—how will you communicate with them? Have several options, and make sure contact information is up to date.
How and where your business will operate if your location is compromised. Will it be possible for employees to work remotely? You may need to set this up ahead of time. What about making arrangements to operate from a temporary location?
A communication plan for your clients. You may need to explain reduced operating hours or delayed shipping. ( And don’t forget to let them know when you’re back to running at full speed!)
A record of your business assets, such as inventory or equipment. Take pictures or shoot video, write descriptions, and keep copies of receipts for large or expensive items in case you need to make an insurance claim.
Go over your plan with your employees and get their input. Make sure everyone understands the policies and roles you’ve agreed upon. Review your plan at least once a year.
3. Protect your data.
Most businesses store some kind of data. If this material is in physical form, you may need to make a digital copy and sync it with a cloud-based system so you don’t lose it in a fire or flood. You should then be able to access it from anywhere. Make sure to back up computer systems regularly.
Keep handy a copy of any data you need to access in case of disaster, like your insurance policy number and claims instructions, payroll information, and/or passwords and account information for your cloud-based storage.
4. Review your business insurance coverage.
Discuss your needs for business insurance coverage with an insurance professional (like a Lakewood Financial Services agent!). Review your policy at least once a year to be sure it continues to meet your needs. Understand what is covered and what isn’t. For example, flood damage isn’t covered by most standard policies. Flood coverage is available through the NFIP or private carriers (click here if you need a flood insurance quote).
Having the right insurance coverage is probably the most important thing you can do to be sure you’ll have the financial resources to recover from a natural disaster. (Remember, if you run a small business from your home, you’ll still need to buy a business insurance policy of some type. Homeowners insurance generally doesn’t cover business activities.)
Protect your small business from disaster with careful planning—now, before it’s too late. And please let Lakewood Financial Services be a part of your disaster planning. Give us a call if you have questions about your business policy, or you need a quote for business insurance. Reach an agent at 941-747-4600, or click here to contact us online.