Preparation: Your Companys Best Defense in Case of Catastrophe

You've hung out your shingle and are ready for business. But what if something unforeseen were to occur? Is your business truly ready for all that being in business entails? It only takes one catastrophic event to adversely impact a once thriving business. Recent world events: 9/11 destruction of the World Trade Centers and the Pentagon, the tsunami in Asia, along with other natural disasters act as a constant reminder that being well-prepared is often our best line of defense.

What's that, you say? Your business isn't located in a city likely to be a target of either natural or manmade disasters. This may well be the case, but this doesn't take in account that inexplicable chemical spill or train derailment that can happen on your doorstep or public utility failures, such as electrical power outages, brownouts or surges, which can unduly affect the daily operation of your business. Keep in mind, many nature disasters, such as blizzards, tornadoes and earthquakes, can strike with little or no advance warning.

So what's a business owner to do? Well first, and foremost, you make sure your business has an up-to-date disaster plan. It's been reported that as many as forty percent of small businesses fail to open their doors again after a major disaster. Many of these businesses were simply unprepared for a disaster; they hadn't taken the time to prepare a backup plan to better insure the livelihoods of their employees or the continued satisfaction of their customer base.

When you begin to develop your company's disaster preparedness plan, three areas should be given special consideration: human resources, physical resources, and business continuity. In devising a plan, as a business owner, you must carefully consider how a disaster might impact your employees, customers, the physical workplace itself, along with what procedures and policies would need to be in place to continue to conduct business if that disaster forces you to temporarily relocate to another site.

All Disaster Plans Should Consider the Following:

Human Resources

? Identify staff essential to your business keeping its doors open. Keep an updated list of their contact information: phone numbers (home, work, pager, cell) and e-mail addresses that can be made available from several locations (home, Internet, etc.). This information should be readily available to key staff members.

? If your business has voice mail, select one remote number on which you can record messages to be accessed by employees in case of emergencies. Make sure that your phones can be programmed to forward calls from the main business line(s). This allows to you program the phones to ring at another site if you cannot access your business. Make this number available to all employees.

? Keep copies of personnel, payroll, payables and receivables, and other essential records at an off-site location.

? Leave copies of keys and alarm code(s) with a trusted employee or friend encase you cannot get to your office quickly after an emergency,

Physical Resources

? Install emergency lights that turn on with power failures. Relatively inexpensive, they can be purchased at electrical and hardware supply retailers. Back up computer data frequently; keep a copy of the tape off site.

? Use UL-listed surge protectors and battery backup systems to provide added protection for sensitive equipment and help prevent computer crashes if the power fails.

? Purchase a NOAA Weather Radio with a tone alert feature. Keep it on and when the signal sounds, listen for information about severe weather and protective action to take.

? Stock emergency supplies, including: flashlights, batteries, First Aid kits, tools, and food and water to use during periods of unexpected confinement at your business.

? Install flexible connectors to appliances and equipment fueled by natural gas. Consider installing shutters to protect windows from damage caused by debris blown by hurricanes, tornados or severe storms.

? Install automatic fire sprinklers on each floor of the business.

Business Continuity Resources

? Maintain a minimum supply of the goods, materials and equipment you would need for business continuity off-site.

? Be advised: most insurance policies do not cover earthquake and flood damage. Discuss business continuity insurance with your agent to cover business interruption losses.

? Know how to contact law enforcement and local offices of the American Red Cross, Federal Emergency Management Agency and other agencies that can assist during a crisis.

? Devise an external/public emergency communications plan that outlines how your business will communicate with the news media, customers, and vendors in the wake of a catastrophe.

? Contact vendors/suppliers to confirm their emergency response plan procedures. Line up alternate vendors for essential supplies and equipment. Have back-up equipment and know its availability during periods of crisis.

Your employees are just one in a line of several defense measures available to you. Everyone on your staff should be prepared for a disaster and know what to do if a disaster occurs. Several organizations including the American Red Cross, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Institute for Business and Home Safety, and the Small Business Administration can provide you useful information about how to stay safe in instances of disaster.

Willett Thomas ( is a freelance writer living and working in the Brookland section of Washington, D.C.

In The News:

pen paper and inkwell

cat break through

Innovation Management ? Eliciting Dominant Ideas

Creativity can be defined as problem identification and idea generation... Read More

IT Expenditure - Why Businesses Spend Huge Amounts on Ineffective IT Investments

Another IT White Elephant!It seems that almost every day we... Read More

What Makes a Crisis a Crisis?

If you're old enough and were living in America about... Read More

Sharing the Reins: 10 Reasons To Sell Your Company To Your Employees

In 1987 I sold my business, South Mountain Company, to... Read More

Business Opportunity - Leverage Your Employees!

As a business asset, they don't sit well on the... Read More

Managers? Biggest Blunders

Nobody's perfect, including the boss. Managers, we polled recently, acknowledged... Read More

Turbo Charge Your Career With The Most Powerful Leadership Tool Of All: The Leadership Talk Part 3

To develop and deliver a great Leadership Talk, you must... Read More

Meaningful Diversity: Creating Cultures of Inclusion

In the fitness room the other day, I caught a... Read More

Quality Standards with ISO 9001

Standardizing Quality SystemsThe ISO, or International Organization for Standardization, was... Read More

Hire People For What They Do Best

I recently flew from Seattle to Atlanta, I realized, just... Read More

Using an Appraisal to Benefit Your Organization

PERFORMANCE APPRAISALS BENEFIT THE ORGANIZATION:Appraisals help spot employees with potential... Read More

Productivity Through Positive Reinforcement

Most people just want to be appreciated. If you're a... Read More

Business Innovation ? Organizational Culture

Creativity can be defined as problem identification and idea generation... Read More

Project Management, A Forgotten Perspective

Effective project managers know how to get the job done,... Read More

How To Decrease Profits Without Really Trying

Hurting your sales efforts can be accomplished easily with the... Read More

Where Businesses Fall Short

1. No vision. Successful businesses have a clear vision or... Read More

Human Resources: The Misidentified Subject

Interest in the field of human resources has exploded in... Read More

Taking Care of Middle Manager Bounce Off

How many times have the management consultants been 'in' and... Read More

Problem-Solving Success Tip: Look For Sponsors And Solution Owners

Look for sponsors and solution owners rather than problem owners.Everyone... Read More

Are You in Control of Your Practice or Does it Control You?

One of the most common complaints that business owners have... Read More

To Meet or Not to Meet - What are the Questions?

Meetings can be a total waste of time or a... Read More

Top Ten Things About Creating a Business Vision

To visualise where you are going, is deeper and more... Read More

Problem Solving the Problem Solving Meeting

We go to meetings to share information, to report on... Read More

The Four Key Steps In Hiring And Keeping Top People

"When you hire the best, the rest is easy!" We... Read More

The Leadership Imperative: Making Your Leadership Your Life

Nearly all leaders I've encountered are underachievers. They're getting a... Read More

What 80% of Businesses Don?t Know: Tips for Improving Your Working Capital Management

What is the number one way to prevent failure in... Read More

Organizing The Information

Putting a piece of paper in a file folder is... Read More

Enable Continuous Improvement of IT Services through ITIL

One of the major benefits, if not THE benefit of... Read More

Well-Defined Processes ? How to Create

Interested in learning how to reduce development time, save money... Read More

Are Your Marketing Pieces Up to Date?

The other day someone asked me for one of my... Read More

Why Employees Are the Best Source of Cost-cutting Ideas

Cost cutting has become a necessary and important reality in... Read More

Tales from the Corporate Frontlines: Adapting Human Resource Functions

This article relates to the human resource functions competency, commonly... Read More

It?s Not All About Cheese: The Missing Component in Employee Development (Part 2)

In part one of this article I told you about... Read More