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Six Survival Tips for Small Business Continuity

Six Survival Tips for Small Business Continuity

By James Rivera, SBA Official
Published: August 31, 2015

As a small business owner, you know that being forced to close your doors, even for a day, is a costly setback.  Typically, it’s often the seemingly isolated incident, not the mega-disaster, that causes power outages and the interconnected fallout affecting your clients, employees, and your bottom line.

Between 2003 and 2012, roughly 679 power outages, each affecting at least 50,000 customers, occurred due to weather events, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. The number of outages caused by severe weather is expected to rise as climate change increases the frequency and intensity of hurricanes, blizzards, floods and other extreme weather events.

September is National Preparedness Month and the SBA wants to help business owners take charge of the well-being of their companies, the safety of their employees, and the health of their local economies by being prepared to rebound quickly from any kind of disaster.

Here are a few tips to get you started:

  1. Establish your power needs: Have an electrician determine your power needs.  Know what kind of back-up generator will work for you, but first find out if you have the landlord’s permission to bring in a generator.
  2. Create a communications plan. Establish an e-mail alert system to keep your employees and key stakeholders in the loop. Use phone, texting and social media to provide updates on your recovery process and to let everyone know you’re still in business.
  3. Prepare your supply chain.   Develop relationships with alternative vendors, in case your primary contractor isn’t available. It’s also a good idea to find out if your key suppliers have a recovery plan in place. Create a contact list for important business contractors and vendors you plan to use in an emergency.
  4. Make sure you have enough insurance to recover. Contact your insurance agent to find out if your policy is adequate.  Consider Business Interruption Insurance, which compensates you for lost income if you have to close your doors when disaster strikes.
  5. Educate your employees. Your staff should be aware of your company’s disaster plan, and understand their roles in implementing the plan. Find out if your employees have a family disaster preparedness planIt’s a good idea to put the preparedness plan on an internal company website, on paper, and share it with your staff.
  6. Test the plan.  Doing annual drills with your staff will show you what’s effective and where your preparedness plans need fine-tuning.

You can get help with your own disaster preparedness planning through a series of free webinars in September hosted by the U.S. Small Business Administration and Agility Recovery.  The series is presented in collaboration with FEMA’s Ready Campaign.  The 2015 National Preparedness Month theme is  "Don’t Wait. Communicate. Make your emergency plan today".

The 30-minute webinars will be held at 2 p.m. EDT each Wednesday in September. Here’s the schedule:

  • September 9: “The Keystone to Disaster Recovery: Communications”
  • September 16: “Recover from the Most Likely Disaster: Power Outage”
  • September 23: “Protect Your Most Valuable Asset: Prepare Your Employees”
  • September 30: “If You Do Nothing Else this Year…” Simple tips to build your organization’s resilience.

Click on this link to register for any of the webinars.

The SBA has partnered with Agility Recovery to offer business continuity strategies through their "PrepareMyBusiness" website. Visit www.preparemybusiness.org to access past webinars and additional disaster preparedness tools.

About the Author:

James Rivera
James Rivera

SBA Official

James Rivera was named Associate Administrator for SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance in November 2009 after serving for several months as Acting Associate Administrator. In a typical year, his office approves about 20,000 loans totaling about $1 billion. This is the SBA’s sole direct lending program.