Updated: Dec 28, 2020
Normally, it’s not in an entrepreneur’s nature to be a pessimist, but to protect your business, you must first imagine what a worst-case scenario looks like. Think of it as the perfect storm for everything that could go wrong. What happens if a key employee quits? What happens if there is a fire? What happens if you get sick and can’t work for an extended period? And what happens if all those scenarios occur at once? Once you have your head around that, you should assess your most serious vulnerabilities. First and foremost, you must have measures in place to protect your assets in the event of an emergency. As mentioned earlier, adequate insurance protection is a must. In the event of a catastrophe at your office, you should have a plan in place, to ensure you are able to resume business operations as soon as possible. In many cases, it only involves coming up with a pre-thought plan for everyone to follow.
It amazes me that when disasters hit—hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, etc.—and exact damage on businesses, we hear stories about the many businesses that must close their doors due to lack of insurance. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), forty percent of businesses do not reopen after the disaster hits, twenty-five percent fail within one year, and a second twenty-five percent close within two years. Those numbers are staggering. Much time is spent these days on disaster recovery plans, and spending that time is worth the time and money. Having detailed plans on what to do if disaster strikes, along with a list of secondary suppliers and alternate work locations, can be the difference in being up and running within days versus weeks. Please visit my site at www.$@!$$.com to download a free template for a basic disaster recovery program.
In 1991, the company I worked for transferred me to Charleston, South Carolina—two years after Hurricane Hugo virtually destroyed the area. It amazed me that everyone who had lived through Hugo still talked about it as if it had occurred yesterday. In fact, many had that “thousand-yard stare” when referring to that terrible day in September 1989. I worked at Charleston’s ABC affiliate television station, and all our promotional spots included the fact that we were the only local station to stay on the air throughout the entire storm. That was great, but since there was no electricity for hundreds of miles, very few people cared. However, what it showed was our resilience as a business—that we would be there no matter how bad the weather. In fact, this helped to catapult us from last to almost even with the perennial number one station in the market. Since then, there have been a few storms that have eclipsed Hugo in devastation, but because Hugo, at the time, was the costliest in history, it forced companies to start looking seriously at disaster recovery. We spent years writing and updating our plan. We documented every procedure, including where I would go with the cash box, so we would have money available in the days following the storm. Now, some would say we were being overly cautious, but when you are talking about a business for which you have risked everything, I would take caution over chaos any day.