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Are you ready for the next natural disaster? 3 keys to business survival

November 6, 2012 by Lee James
Posted in: In this week's e-newsletter, Latest News and Views, Management

You could say that, at least in terms of Hurricane Sandy, you might be closing the barn door after the horse has fled. But there always will be other times it’s critical for your business to have a crisis management plan in place.

One reason is a sobering bit of history: In tallying the damage incurred by Hurricanes Rita and Katrina in 2005, the U.S. Congress determined that 43% of the businesses knocked off line by a natural disaster never reopen.

Of the businesses that do remain open, 29% go belly up within two years.

Depending on where you’re located, a natural disaster can severely disrupt your operations — even if your physical location is relatively unscathed. Even a partial shutdown can be crippling to many businesses.

If you have a crisis management plan in place, great! If you had to use it, did it hold up?

Keys to business survival

If you don’t have a crisis management plan, now’s a good time to put one together, especially if your business was affected by Sandy’s swath of damage.

The storm could’ve exposed any shortcomings or tipped you off to overlooked areas that need to be addressed.

There are three key areas small businesses should address in putting together an effective plan.

1. Your people.

  • Can you get in touch with them?
  • What if email isn’t an option?
  • Do you have home phone and cell phone numbers?
  • Who makes the decisions as to whether the business is open, or opening late?
  • How’s that message relayed to people, and who oversees that?
  • Do employees have the capability to work from home?
  • Can they connect with servers in the office?
  • Who should employees get in touch with for advice or assistance?

2. IT.

  • Is critical data going to be secure?
  • Can it be housed in an off-site location, such as cloud-based storage?
  • Do people know what they’re supposed to do to connect remotely to your company’s server — and who to contact if they’re having problems?
  • (Now’s also a good opportunity to remind people to save often and back up their own files regularly.)

3. Your customers/vendors/salespeople, etc.

  • Will they be able to get in touch with you if your business is shuttered?
  • Can your business arrange to have calls forwarded from the central number to a phone that will be answered?
  • Do the outsiders know who they should contact for concerns and questions?
  • Do your customers and other outsiders have the cell numbers they would need?

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