Small Business Advice
Are you prepared for hurricane season?
Q: With hurricane season soon approaching, do you have any suggestions how to prepare for a disruption of business due to a storm or other disaster?
A: Every year many businesses suffer loss due to fire, wind, water and other events. Stop for a moment and think about all the time and resources you've invested in your small business. Imagine that it's all gone -- furniture, equipment, inventory, records, everything. What do you do?
While we are powerless to prevent some accidents and acts of God, a proactive disaster management plan can mitigate their effects and help speed your return to normal operations. Here are some tips for developing a disaster management business strategy:
- Identify potential hazards. -- In addition to natural events like hurricanes and floods, you should consider man-made disasters like fire, toxic material spills, civil unrest, vandalism and terrorism. Even if your business is not directly affected, such events could disrupt your utilities and supply chains.
- Develop an operational contingency plan. -- Assess the feasibility of operating out of nearby rented office space, storefront, or even your home. Perhaps a mutual agreement with a supplier to share space is worth considering. Determine what equipment and other resources will be needed to continue operations. Back up computer files and store them off site or in the cloud.
- Perform a safety inventory. -- Regularly clean and test smoke detectors. Make sure you have several well stocked first aid kits and that all fire extinguishers are fully charged. Purchase portable generators and take care that the fuel is safely stored.
- Review your business insurance coverage. -- At a minimum, your coverage should be enough to get your business back in operation at the earliest possible date. It should cover the replacement cost of the building, contents and essential facilities. Most business owner policies do not cover damages from flood or earthquake. However these coverages may be purchased separately. Special coverage may also be needed for computer hardware, software and reconstruction of lost data. A major consideration is Business Interruption and Extra Expense insurance that covers for loss of income and other expenses incurred to quickly return to normal operation.
For assistance in crafting a disaster preparedness and management plan, contact your local SCORE chapter at www.score.org. Counseling is both free and confidential.
Gray Poehler is a volunteer with the Naples Chapter of SCORE.
A SCORE counselor since 2005, Gray Poehler owned and operated an independent insurance agency with 20 employees and two locations. He has earned the Certified Insurance Counselor designation and is familiar with both personal and commercial property and casualty insurance. Areas of expertise include: Business Finance and Accounting; Business Strategy and Planning; Business Operations; Human Resources and Internal Communications; Sales, Marketing and Public Relations.
To learn more about management issues of small businesses, contact the SCORE office nearest you.