Running a small business is difficult even in the best of times. Add a little chaos to the mix (like a major storm or unexpected structural damage to your office or storefront) and the outcome can be dire. When you come up against issues that you’re unprepared for, often the only thing you can do is react in the moment – and that may not lead to optimal results. Building your business’s resilience and having emergency management processes in place can help you stay afloat through unexpected events.
There are many large and small scale obstacles that can disrupt your normal business operations. You may not feel like you have the time to devote to thinking about those far off challenges when there are more pressing matters to tackle. However, it’s worth it if it can help keep your doors open, even in the face of an emergency.
So let’s take a few minutes to think through some ways to build your business’s resilience.
Here’s a scenario: You’ve taken amazing care of your storefront – you’ve kept up with the maintenance, made some upgrades, and everything is clean and tidy. There’s nothing wrong with your building. But then, the unexpected occurs. A neighboring building is on fire! You and your employees need to evacuate, and it’s not safe to stand near your building due to the encroaching blaze. Have you and your employees talked about where to meet up if you have to evacuate? Do you have a data backup plan in place so that you don’t lose all of your information? Since you’ve made upgrades that increase the value of your building, have you also increased your insurance policies?
Let’s try one more scenario. Imagine there’s a major storm and your business loses electricity for three days. What is the bare minimum that you need to operate? Do you have backup batteries for your electronic devices or a backup generator to keep essential systems running?
As we’ve all learned in the past few years, there’s a lot that can happen. By thinking through these scenarios, you can better prepare yourself, your business, and your staff. And remember – you don’t need to think of every scenario and every process right now. Take your time, doing this in stages will help you to check (and double check) the systems you put in place. As your business grows, you will need to revisit this process, but starting now will give you a solid foundation to build on and it will help to reduce the stress and maintain your profitability when the unexpected happens.
What are some of the processes you’ve put in place in order to make sure you stay open for business?