OK, so there’s not a disaster in your face at the moment. But if we look at the trends for just the last year, the chances your small business will be faced with some type of disaster are pretty high. You can’t afford to take chances with your livelihood. Imagine waking up one day and finding it all gone — just because of a disaster. Not a pretty picture is it?
According to the Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS), one of every four businesses forced to close following a disaster never reopens. And those disasters don’t have to be caused by catastrophe-level events. Widespread power outages, water main breaks and fires also can effectively shut down a company for a long period, sometimes months, costing it millions of dollars in lost business, some or all of it never to return.
That’s why IBHS encourages every small business owner to resolve to be better prepared in 2008 by putting together a disaster plan. They are even offering a free copy of the Open for Business® toolkit to kick start the process. The toolkit provides the framework to help prioritize critical business functions and organize information needed to continue operating — even from a remote location should some type of disaster occur in your small business.
“Contingency planning is a core part of running any successful business. Failing to plan is placing an unnecessary bet on the survival of your business and your employees’ livelihoods,” said IBHS President and CEO Julie Rochman. “Fortunately, business owners and senior managers can greatly tilt the odds in their favor, even in the face of disaster. Open for Business® includes some fairly simple, low-cost steps that can help — saving jobs and allowing the company to continue being there for customers and suppliers.”
These are the top five business continuity planning steps offered by IBHS:
1) Make two copies of important documents and store them in separate locations. These should include lease papers, photographs of property and lists of inventory.
2) Update contact information for employees, the building manager or owner, key suppliers and customers, and local utilities.
3) Consider an alternate location from which to do business if a disaster were to force you to relocate.
4) Review plans with employees and make sure they know how to reach their immediate supervisor in an emergency.
5) Assess current insurance needs with your agent and update their contact information, including emergency hotlines.
Start now. Download a copy of the Open for Business® toolkit from the IBHS web site www.DisasterSafety.org or request a single copy by calling toll-free (866) 657-4247.
IBHS, a national nonprofit initiative of the insurance industry, works to reduce the social and economic effects of natural disasters and other property losses by conducting research and advocating improved construction, maintenance and preparation practices.