Most small businesses will never face major destruction due to a natural disaster. But even if your business isn’t in an area prone to tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, or earthquakes, disaster can still strike. Fires, water line breaks, and power outages can happen to anyone without warning, sidelining a small business for hours, days, weeks, or even months. The key to surviving as businesses around you are forced to hang the “Closed” sign for good resides in one simple word: preparedness.
For the summer of 2013, some small businesses are especially susceptible to disaster, as four independent forecast organizations recently predicted this summer will bring an especially active hurricane season. As two pioneers of seasonal hurricane forecasting told The Washington Post in April, experts are expecting 18 named storms, nine hurricanes, and four major hurricanes.
To help businesses prepare, Capital One Small Business has devised four tips to protect your business against disaster.
- Inform key clients. Before a disaster occurs, create an emergency backup plan, including alternate phone numbers and a temporary location to restore operations during downtime. Make sure you can access contact information for all of your employees and key customers in the event you have to share relocation plans. If an emergency happens, make sure you can update this information on your website, as well.
- Identify business continuity tools. A thorough disaster recovery plan can ensure your business continues uninterrupted. Your plan should list each critical business function in priority order, along with a timeline detailing how quickly each item must be recovered. Once your preparedness plan is in place, regularly revisit it and share it with your team to ensure it addresses your ever-changing business needs.
- Prepare to meet emergency cash-flow needs. Emergencies usually aren’t included in a business’s budget. Capital One recommends building an emergency fund into your business’s budget, as well as keeping enough cash on hand to meet immediate needs in a disaster. To ensure purchasing remains uninterrupted, consider issuing business credit cards to key personnel to continue operations during an emergency.
- Plan to work remotely. Capital One Small Business notes that because some disasters can create significant downtime, each small business should have a plan for working offsite during a disaster. Today, many workers can be up and running the next day in their own homes, but if you own a retail location, this may mean temporarily relocating your entire shop to an unaffected area of town.
Lastly, consider Cloud solutions to many of your day-to-day operations. Choosing software that can be accessed from workers’ smartphones, tablets, or home PCs can help increase the chances of continuing operations uninterrupted. By storing files offsite at a trusted, safe data center, your data will be accessible when you’re ready to use it.
Capital One Small Business provides cash-back and rewards-based credit cards to small businesses. Through its website, the small business division of Capital One also offers educational resources and low-cost 401(k) plans to help small business owners manage operations.