Extreme Weather and Your Small Business

If disaster struck tomorrow, what would happen to your small business? One local study found that almost one year after Hurricane Sandy, nearly half of small business owners surveyed still did not have a disaster preparedness plan in place. More than 40% of local businesses were shut down by the storm. Of those, 64% said they were caught off guard, and only 22% said they had a storm preparedness plan. Another startling fact was that 88% lost power and Internet service. Of those who weren’t affected by the storm, 33.7% were simply lucky — their businesses were outside of the storm’s path. You might not be so fortunate when extreme weather strikes. How can you protect your business?

The first thing to do is to determine what type of extreme weather is most likely to affect your region, whether it’s fires, floods, hurricanes or earthquakes, and consider what the possible results could be, such as lost power, inability to access your business location, etc. Once you have decided what type of threat your business could be facing, you can then determine your best course of action.

Always think safety first and develop a plan for getting employees and customers safely out of your location should disaster strike during business hours. Set up a communication plan such as a phone, email or text message roster to alert employees and make sure everyone is accounted for. Remember to stock your business with emergency supplies.

Next, focus on keeping your business equipment and data safe. Make sure your critical business data is backed up and stored somewhere outside your business (and, ideally, outside your geographic region so your backups aren’t affected by the same event). Think about where critical equipment is housed, many businesses and hospitals have determined that putting computer servers in a basement isn’t a good idea. For a small business, consider making sure that your critical equipment is at least three feet above the floor.

Finally, develop a plan for your business to continue operating despite a severe weather event. This might involve essential employees working from home, so make sure your team has the equipment, know-how and access to data that they’ll need to keep your business running smoothly.