Natural disasters can happen anytime, anywhere. Although companies are unable to prevent these catastrophes from happening, they can prepare their business using these scenarios.

Unfortunately, not every business comes up with preventative measures. An article from the Claims Journal revealed that 75 percent of small businesses have no disaster plan.

If you’re running a business, you’ll need some kind of plan that will help you bounce back from a natural or man-made catastrophe. You’ll never know when a disaster may hit your business. How quickly you recover after the unfortunate event will depend on the amount of advanced planning you do.

Consider the following steps to prepare your business for all sorts of disasters:

1. Conduct a Risk Assessment

Enumerate the kinds of emergencies that will most likely disrupt or halt your business operations. Then, assess your company’s preparedness level. You can determine this by referring to free resources on the web, such as the Ready Rating website of the American Red Cross. This site offers a 123-point self-assessment, as well as best practices and tools to help boost your company’s level of preparedness.

2. Formulate a Contingency Plan

Once you’ve properly evaluated your company’s current level of preparedness, develop an operational contingency plan. Go over the business operations, note down major incidents that could halt your business operations, and create an action plan that explains the safety measures that people should be doing in case these incidents occur.

If a fire, for instance, were to hit your building, your contingency plan should contain the following information:

  • Fire Protection Details – The plan should include a fire protection method that will minimize property and inventory damage. Sprinkler systems are typically adequate in providing general fire protection for traditional commercial establishments. If your building, however, has fragile inventory requiring protection that can’t get wet, you’ll need something that puts out fires without inadvertently damaging your delicate products. You could, for instance, reach out to a fire suppression systems provider, such as Trade Fire Solutions Ltd, to snuff out fires without using water.
  • Fire Safety Education – Employees must know what to do and where to go in the event of a fire.
  • Alternative Business Location – The contingency plan should designate a place where employees can continue to run the business.

3. Create an Effective Communications Plan

When disaster strikes, the situation becomes chaotic. During this time, a solid communications plan is crucial to minimize panic and prevent misinformation from spreading like wildfire.

You could create a call tree or build a password-protected website where workers can report in and let the organization know that they’re safe. Whatever choice you make, remember to disseminate this plan to all team members in advance.

Your plan should also include customer communication. Instead of leaving these people wondering about the status of your company, develop a plan that informs your audience of the impact of the disaster on your business. Then, disseminate this information through various channels, such as press releases, e-mails and social media.

If your company will shut down or operate under reduced hours for an indefinite amount of time, let your customers know about your situation and how your delay can affect product or service delivery.

4. Test Your Plans

Creating well-thought-out plans is half of the piece of the puzzle. You need to test them to figure out which components aren’t adequate or incompatible with the needs of your business.

Arrange a schedule for testing the various aspects of your plans and make adjustments as necessary. By testing and tweaking your plans, you eliminate the weak components that can derail the recovery of your business.

5. Back up Important Data

Regularly back up product information, customer records, accounting data, financial details, and other info in a secure location. This preventative measure, however, means more than just plugging a thumb drive or an external hard drive into computers now and then. You should back up electronic data continuously to protect against data loss.

An obvious solution you can take is to use a cloud-based backup platform. Look for remote backup service providers that provide a great deal of protection against various types of disasters. Having backups enables you to access the information you need regardless of your location. It also helps keep your business running smoothly.

6. Get in Touch with Your Insurance Agent

Some business owners think that their insurance policy provides plenty of coverage, only to find out that their policy does not include a particular disaster situation. So, speak with your insurance agent to check if your policy covers specific types of disasters.

Also, ask the representative about business interruption insurance. This coverage is highly beneficial because it enables business owners to continue to pay ongoing bills while they’re temporarily out of business.

Although you can’t completely avoid natural disasters, you can follow these six tips to mitigate their potential damage to your business. When rolling out your disaster preparedness plan to your organization, make sure that all your employees understand what they need to do when a catastrophe strikes.