The coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak has upended life for most Americans, which has a corresponding impact on the businesses they work for and interact with. So how do you prepare for a pandemic like this? And how do you prepare for future emergencies that we can’t even anticipate? Robust resources are available to help your small business with emergency preparedness. Start with the Small Business Administration’s excellent emergency preparedness portal. You should also check out the resources offered by SCORE, the Department of Homeland Security, and the US Chamber of Commerce. Putting together a comprehensive plan empowers your business to continue operations during emergencies such as COVID-19, as well as other natural and human-caused disasters. Here’s a basic checklist to help you begin your preparations: The Potential Impact Think about how an emergency could affect your business. \tWhat type of emergencies are possible in your business location? \tHow would your facility hold up during these possible disasters? \tWhat can you do to make your facility more resilient? \tDo you have the proper insurance? \tHave you gathered all the relevant emergency responder contact info? \tHave you gathered contact info for all the relevant utilities? \tHave you gathered contact info for your employees? Navigating the Emergency Consider how you can safeguard your employees and business. \tHave you created an emergency planning committee? \tDo you have the right first aid supplies and safety equipment? \tWho will be in charge during an emergency? \tDo you have employees trained in first aid and CPR/AED? \tHow will you alert your employees of an emergency? \tHow will you communicate throughout the emergency? \tDo you have an evacuation plan in place? Continuing Business Operations Evaluate how you will keep things running during the emergency. \tWhat are your most important business functions? \tHow will you keep these functions going? \tHow will you communicate with customers, suppliers, and partners? \tHow will you work if your facility is inaccessible? \tHave you trained your employees on the procedures in your plan? \tDo you conduct drills to ensure understanding and proper execution? Be sure to use the robust resources provided by the Small Business Administration (SBA), SCORE, the Department of Homeland Security, and the US Chamber of Commerce to bolster the basic steps outlined in this checklist. Once you’ve gathered all the information, you’ll be able to tailor a plan just for your business. One of the most important aspects of any successful plan is having everyone on the same page. Talk to your employees before you make any big decisions. Gather their feedback and implement it wherever possible. You’ll often be surprised by the excellent ideas that arise through this type of collaboration. After finalizing your plan, make sure it’s communicated clearly and consistently with your people. Hopefully, your plan will rarely need to be put into action. But having it at the ready is an essential part of being a responsible business owner. Your employees will know you value their health and safety and that you are doing everything possible to also protect their livelihood in the event of an emergency.