After a devastating storm, the last thoughts on survivors, victims and their communities is shopping or retail. Some devastation is so catastrophic like that of Hurricane Katrina and Sandy, communities have needed support and time to rebuild homes, schools and businesses. How does a business and its community, online and off, bounce back after a disaster?
First be sure to spend time assessing the health of your business. Make sure your affairs are in order, including important documents, the safety of your staff and that your properties and equipment are intact. By doing your own assessment, you can determine how your business can be helpful to other businesses and your greater community in the following areas:
If your small business had fewer damages or the impact did not greatly affect day-to-day operations, then perhaps spend time reaching out to support other business and homeowners. Using your time can mean volunteering with employees to cleanup, stopping by other places of businesses, relief sites, etc. and offering an encouraging word or helping to research the necessary paperwork for residents to get federal assistance.
If you have a large enough staff, consider setting a day or days aside to make care packages with in-demand items like can goods, bottled water, or diapers and then deliver them. Add a note of a support with your business information, so your community knows to reach out to you.
A little goes a long way! If a local or national organization has yet to establish a fund to collect money for those affected, take the lead. Add a donation button to your website or link to a participating organization. If customers, online or locally, are able to patronize your business, donate a portion of their purchase to your community. Additionally, your small business can decide to sponsor a neighborhood or school that the community can rely on in the interim.
Make a list of supplies and equipment that you can donate or lend to others who might be in need. Think about generators, flashlights, shovels, laptops, blankets or games for children. Collaborate with other groups in the community to make a master list.
If you have online resources like a website, an electronic newsletter or podcast, use them to amplify the needs of your community. Educate your audience, especially if some of them only purchase items online. Use social media to engage your customers and encourage them to donate and be a part of the recovery from afar.
Each year the Small Business Administration recognizes one volunteer, public official, and one small business with a Phoenix Award for outstanding contributions during disaster recovery. SBA is currently accepting nominations for the 2017 Phoenix Awards. Submit your nomination today.
Remember to work with others to accomplish more and not to take on too much.
In times of need, your community will appreciate the commitment and support your small business offered in rebuilding long after the disaster clears.