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Even if you’ve spent several years preparing your family for emergency scenarios, it can be difficult to appreciate how wide-ranging the consequences of a disaster can be. This past year of the COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging for everyone, but it has also provided useful insights that you may not have previously considered. If you are an entrepreneur, you have likely discovered that a crisis can cause long-term disruption to your operations.
This is an issue worth exploring. Not all emergencies will see you and your family having to fight for survival. However, many such events can see your company take physical, financial, and operational hits. The efficacy with which you can prepare your operations for the worst can help you not only tackle the initial consequences but also continue on your trajectory toward success.
As we start to head toward the new normal, now can be a great time to pay some extra attention to doomsday prepping your business. Let’s take a look at a few key areas you should be focusing on. What are the contingencies you need to consider? What tools and strategies can help you along the way?
Make a Plan
One of the most important tools your business can have in your doomsday prepping kit is a detailed and formal disaster response plan. Having this document in place not only means that you are fully aware of everything that should be happening in the event of an emergency, but department heads and other staff have a consistent guide they can refer to make certain everything is undertaken correctly.
Your first step is to commit to a thorough audit of your business from the perspective of disaster. Consider all the universal potential sources of disruption — cybercrime, utility outage, civil unrest, natural disaster. It’s also important to pay specific attention to those which are common in your industry or your geographical area; are earthquakes a problem where you operate, is your sector a target for ransomware? Then work through each department of your organization and establish how each scenario is likely to affect operations there, and what safeguards and responses need to be in place to mitigate the worst disruptions.
Your plan also needs to provide a step-by-step route to recovery. One of the things that is clear about our current pandemic is that companies are carefully assessing how the world has changed, and using this knowledge to be more agile and resilient as they adapt their business to the future. Consider how a disaster may affect your customers and their ability to continue being patrons after a disaster. Might your suppliers stop trading as a result? The better you’re able to consider the aftermath of a disaster, the more agile your recovery plan will be.
One thing that any prepper should accept is that a successful disaster response is not a solo project — it’s a community effort. Yes, you have some clear skills that you’ve built, but you can’t know everything. This is especially true where business is concerned. Some of the most successful entrepreneurs know that if you want to thrive in business, you hire people that are smarter than you. The same approach should be taken when prepping your company for doomsday.
Start with your internal experts. Each of your members of staff has skills that are useful in an emergency scenario. Gather them into a meeting, and discuss what their knowledge and abilities are. If your company is large enough to have separate departments, engage with the heads of these to gain their insights into precisely what issues can be risky during the emergency scenarios you’ve outlined, and what they would recommend the solutions to be. Take the opportunity to formalize emergency roles for each expert member of your staff, and set goals to encourage them to prepare your business accordingly.
It may be the case that your business doesn’t have internal experts in all areas of disaster preparedness and recovery. Therefore it’s important to establish where these deficits lie and seek outside guidance. It may be the case that you’ll need to have your information technology (IT) systems and protocols reviewed for vulnerability by a cybersecurity expert. Providing key staff with first aid training is an important step. It can also be worth reaching out to your local community emergency response team for guidance or forming one to diversify the preparedness talents in your local area.
Planning and expertise are important elements in your preparations. However, you also need tangible resources to ensure that your prep is effective should the worst happen.
Some areas you should consider here include:
One of the key things that COVID-19 has made clear is that businesses can be affected not just in their own houses, but also throughout the supply chain. If the disruption to your premises isn’t dangerous, you need to make sure that you still have the materials you need to keep trading with your customers. Just as financial diversity can be useful in a disaster, so too can diversifying your supply chain provide important alternative sources of support. Even if you stick with your regular supplier, you should explore who the other practical options in your area are, and establish relationships with them.
Disasters of any kind can see businesses taking significant monetary losses. Review whether your business interruption insurance would cover the additional scenarios you’ve planned for. Seek out potential lines of credit for the event that you’ll have short-term cash flow problems. It’s also important to ensure your income stream remains consistent. Create templates for your invoices that can be easily adjusted with client details and distributed electronically. Put backups of these templates onto a cloud platform so that if your central office is disrupted, you can still create invoices and distribute them from your temporary workspace.
While your family is naturally going to be your first concern in a disaster, it’s also important to make adequate preparations for your business. Create a thorough plan taking multiple scenarios into account, and involve experts in your process. When you back these up with financial and operational resources, you have a good chance of weathering the storm and recovering.