September is National Preparedness Month and a good reminder to prepare your businesses in the event of a disaster or emergency. Disasters can take many forms and the financial cost of rebuilding can be overwhelming. Below are steps you can take now to protect your business and employees, and how the SBA can help you recover.
What to Do Before a Disaster
- Assess your risk: The threats that disasters pose vary by industry and geographical region. As such, it is important to be aware of the disasters that are most likely to impact your business, including the obvious and not so obvious risks. For example, perhaps your business is located in the part of the country where earthquakes and wildfires are more prevalent, or near bodies of water where flooding is a real threat. If you work with sensitive information or store personal data on your business computer system, you’re probably more vulnerable to data breaches.
- Make a plan: A thorough response plan can be a matter of make or break. Luckily, the SBA’s emergency preparedness sie contains a wealth of information, including specific tips on topics from hurricanes and tornadoes to cyber security. You’ll also find a variety of emergency-related toolkits at the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) “Ready Business” page.
- Follow through: A well-organized plan is only as good as its execution. Make sure to review your plan with your staff. Check with your insurance provider to make sure your coverage is up to date, and back up all company data in case your technology is affected. If you operate on-site, physically prepare your business for potential damage. Also, build an emergency kit. Essentials like first-aid items, non-perishable foods, medicines, bottled water, masks, sanitizers, flashlights, and battery-powered radios are a must.
How the SBA Can Help You Respond and Recover
Once the President approves a disaster declaration, SBA disaster loan assistance is available. Businesses of all sizes, nonprofits, homeowners, and renters are eligible to apply for SBA disaster loan assistance. You can apply for low-interest disaster loans online at disasterloanassistance.sba.gov or in-person at an SBA disaster business recovery center, which are typically set up near the disaster site. There are several disaster loan types:
- Physical damage loans cover necessary repairs and replacement costs.
- Mitigation assistance loans help with operating expenses.
- Economic Injury Disaster Loans provide relief to small businesses that have incurred losses to their homes or personal property.
- Military reservist loans help eligible businesses with staff on active-duty leave.
For more information about SBA disaster assistance, visit sba.gov/disaster.