Emergencies are an inevitable part of life. Some are minor, such as fender benders, power outages, and seasonal flooding. Your business likely navigates multiple examples of these smaller emergencies each year.
But larger emergencies, more accurately described as disasters, have outsized effects that can bring a small business to its knees. Research shows that up to 60% of small businesses permanently close their doors following a disaster. One of the key factors to a business’s survival is how long it shuts down during the disaster. The longer the shutdown, the higher the chances of failure.
“A good disaster plan means fewer days out of business, better communication with customers, and a better settlement from your insurance company,” explains an emergency preparedness report from Business.com. “Add it all up and your plan could be the reason your small business beats the odds. Look, we know you have a long to-do list. But trustworthy government resources developed over the past few years have made putting together a disaster plan much easier than you’d think.”
To make sure your business is ready for emergencies such as the coronavirus outbreak, you should leverage the excellent resources available. Here are 6 worth checking out:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- US Chamber of Commerce
- Small Business Administration (SBA)
- Department of Homeland Security
Read through these resources, then take the time to consider how best to implement these precautions and procedures into your business operations. An important aspect of this process is talking to your employees to understand their priorities and concerns. Preparedness is a team effort, so enlist your team from the onset.
Shoring up your business so that it can withstand an emergency is certainly not a one-time task. You’ll need to constantly review and update your plan. Drills and practices are also crucial because procedures that look great on paper don’t always translate into reality.
Your plan should consider all aspects of an emergency. For example, who will be in charge? This designation is critical because prompt and accurate communication is needed when situations become dire. Also, how will you get in touch with people? Make sure your contacts list is updated and complete.
Next, you’ll need to look at possible disasters that could impact your area and consider the direct impact they could have on your facilities. Based on this evaluation, identify what functions would need to be carried out on-site during an emergency. For example, is there equipment that would need to be shut down or hazardous materials to be secured?
You should then create an evacuation plan for you and your employees. This plan includes identifying individuals who would assume responsibility for first aid and other medical duties.
All your efforts in this process have value. First, you’re safeguarding yourself and your employees. Human life always takes top priority. But your plan will also make it more likely for your business to operate when calamity strikes. Remember, the sooner you can open your doors, the better your odds for surviving the disaster and enjoying long-term success.