September is National Preparedness Month (NPM). Is your business prepared? 25 percent of firms do not open again after a major disaster, according to Institute for Business and Home Safety. Smart planning can help you keep your business running if disaster strikes. You will want to take the right steps to prevent and prepare for disaster and know where to get aid if disaster strikes. Here are a few things you can do now to be prepared, in case a destructive hurricane makes landfall in your area:
A risk assessment can help you protect your business against all potential threats — in particular, those less frequent but devastating natural disasters that strike without warning. Many business owners are caught off guard by the high costs of repairs following an accident. Moreover, making informed and sound decisions can be tough when you are scrambling as fast as possible to reopen doors. Perform a risk assessment. An assessment can help you determine replacement and repair estimates so you can ensure you have adequate insurance to protect your property and physical assets. Call your insurance representative NOW to ensure you are fully covered in the event of a disaster.
Create a Response Plan—and Practice
In any catastrophe, the top priority is protecting the health and livelihood of customers and employees with a response plan. It is important for organizations to have incident response plans in place. Incident response plans provide step by step procedures for handling security incidents, allowing organizations to react swiftly and efficiently. An emergency preparation plan should include (at minimum) the following:
- Systems of communication for reaching customers/guests, employees and emergency services organizations
- A clear evacuation plan for clients and employees
- A rendezvous point for employees to meet and organize
- Every employee should be familiar with your contingency plan, so they know what to do when a disaster occurs. Regular training sessions should be held to ensure your plan remains intact and will be well orchestrated if the unexpected event happens.
Partner with Trustworthy Restoration Contractors—Before an Event
Employing an “ounce of prevention” by establishing a working relationship with a restoration contractor is key to a quick restoration after a disaster. Otherwise,
you will waste valuable days or even weeks simply trying to line up help, when you could be getting your business back online. Moreover, if you end up with an inexperienced contractor, they may underbid or simply not have the resources to manage a large-scale commercial project. Here are a few things to consider when looking for a reputable provider:
- Safety—A company’s safety record can be a good indication of their competency and efficacy, so it is important to find a restoration company with a strong safety track record
- Experience—A provider who has seen and responded to many types of disasters is likely better prepared for unexpected circumstances
- References—The option to check references before you are desperate is important because it gives you time to consider whether the contractor is a good fit for your company.
Implement a #DataProtectionStrategy
While most companies back up data, they do not always do it correctly. A data protection strategy first begins with knowing what information needs to be protected and then ensuring that it is backed up properly and on a regular basis. Then, periodically test your backup system to make sure you can easily get access to critical information. Never assume…every backup strategy needs to be modified and adjusted to meet compliance and data growth requirements.
Disaster Assistance and #EmergencyRelief For Businesses
Disaster assistance loans may become available. SBA provides low-interest disaster loans to businesses of all sizes, private non-profit organizations, homeowners, and renters. SBA disaster loans can be used to repair or replace the following items damaged or destroyed in a declared disaster: real estate, personal property, machinery and equipment, and inventory and business assets. Visit SBA for details.
Relief For Taxpayers and Businesses
Special tax law provisions may help taxpayers and businesses recover financially from the impact of a disaster, especially when the federal government declares their location to be a major disaster area. Depending on the circumstances, the IRS may grant additional time to file returns and pay taxes. Both individuals and businesses in a federally declared disaster area can get a faster refund by claiming losses related to the disaster on the tax return for the previous year, usually by filing an amended return.
Dr. Cozette M. White is an acclaimed best-selling author, nationally recognized financial analyst and tax strategist, international speaker and philanthropist.
White’s advice has been called upon by ABC and FOX television stations. She has been featured on the numerous radio shows, a recurring voice to millions making regular appearances in various national media outlets, including Black Enterprise, Forbes, Women of Wealth, Upscale, The Huffington Post, and countless newspapers across the country. Women of Wealth dubbed White, “Wealth Builders Extraordinaire.” Recently Dr. White was awarded the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award by President Barack Obama.