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District Director's Corner - March 2014 by Dennis S. Melton, SBA St. Louis District Director

Disaster preparedness is something that small business owners often put on the back burner. We here at the SBA have seen the business problems caused by this procrastination and therefore urge you to move disaster preparedness up on your priority list.

 

Weather is a major cause of disasters in Missouri and this year the weather has been especially capricious. We’re coming out of a very rough winter with excessively cold temperatures, near record snowfalls, and extreme temperature changes. Many people experienced burst pipes, leaking roofs, backed up sewers, or had to close because driving was so treacherous. In some places we had ice accumulations that caused power outages. As we head into spring we’ll need to brace for tornado season.  High winds and thunderstorms have also caused extensive damage in our District.  Lightning strikes, flooding, draughts, and straight line winds have also caused their own brand of damage, and we must always be vigilant against cyber-attacks.  Any of these weather or other conditions could destroy your electronic business records, decrease your customer traffic, and/or cause your business to close for days, weeks, or even months.

 

Disasters that can negatively affect your small business are almost limitless—most of them beyond your control. However, disaster planning can help mitigate the damage they can bring and may mean the difference between business survival and failure. Sometimes disaster planning can even increase your business’ profitability because it forces you to take a good hard look at your business operations.  To help entrepreneurs prepare for such catastrophes the SBA and its partners have developed the following websites:    

 

For more information on disaster planning, please visit SBA’s disaster preparedness page at http://www.sba.gov/prepare, PrepareMyBusiness.org at http://www.preparemybusiness.org/, American Red Cross Ready Rating at http://www.readyrating.org/, and Ready.gov at http://www.ready.gov. Look for future disaster webinars hosted by SBA in conjunction with Agility Recovery Solutions. As the saying goes, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

 

In the event of declared national disasters, SBA Disaster Assistance will respond with low interest rate loans to small businesses, homeowners, renters, and even non-profits. SBA also provides disaster loans to military reservists whose businesses have experienced economic injury as a result of military service.

 

Disaster preparedness and assistance is just one of the many ways SBA helps small businesses start, thrive, and grow. We’re here to help your small business succeed. Prepare for a disaster and hope it never happens; but should it occur, the time will have been well spent.