Disaster Preparedness

Head-in-the-Sand Avoidance … or Responsible Action

A flashy convertible speeds down the interstate, its young driver thrilling to the wind whipping his hair, relishing the heady sense of daring and indestructibility. Probably each of us can remember that adolescent feeling of being invincible. Was it rational? Responsible? Reasonable? Of course not. It was an irresponsible adolescent denial of reality! As adults, we know better; we’ve learned a few things about reality, risk, and responsibility. Some small business owners, however, still cling to the notion that their businesses are somehow immune to normal business risks. Like the young driver, their head-in-the-sand attitude seems to be, “It can’t happen to me.”

The risks are real. Small businesses go under every day because a decision-maker chose to ignore the obligation to prepare for the unexpected. Consider, for instance, how you, as a small business owner, would respond to a disastrous event. Are you prepared to deal with a wildfire, terrorism, flooding, road outages that prevent you and your customers from accessing your business, a burglary, a chemical spill, malicious tampering, the inability of suppliers to deliver goods and services to your business, lightning, a bomb threat, prolonged loss of electricity or water supply, or loss of critical data files (such as customer or billing databases) due to computer failure or user error? Even the most innocuous-looking events can spell disaster for your business. This is especially true for small businesses that can be forced to close by an event that larger organizations would have considered merely a nuisance.

Once hit with a disaster or other emergency, seven out of ten small businesses never recover. “One of the lessons from [Hurricane] Floyd…is that business disruption can be caused as much by indirect impacts, such as road closures, loss of water and power supply, and the inability of suppliers to deliver goods and services to your business. Following Floyd, road closures had the most prolonged impacts on businesses, followed by loss of water and electric power.” (FEMA). Even the smallest of businesses needs to find a way to plan for any eventuality.

Once you have decided that you need to take action to protect your business, where do you start? If you were a Fortune 500 business, you could hire a Business Continuity expert or outsource that function to a highly-paid consultant. If you had plenty of extra time, you could study, conduct research, and eventually become a Business Continuity expert and handle that function yourself. A third alternative, the most reasonable one for small business owners, is to work with a company that specializes in providing emergency management planning services for small businesses.

This is where things can get tricky. If you don’t know much about emergency management planning, it’s hard to know just what to look for. In order to take the guesswork out of making this all-important decision, we’ve compiled a list of questions you might want to ask before you sign up with an emergency management planning service:

  1. How much experience do you have in the field of emergency management planning?
  2. What kinds of disasters do your services cover?
  3. How will you provide service that is customized for my small business? 
  4. Does your service offer secure data backup?
  5. What about data recovery? How can I get to my backed-up data?
  6. How can I be sure nobody else can get to it?
  7. How much of my time will be required to maintain this level of disaster preparedness?
  8. What if my entire operation is destroyed? What would you do for me?
  9. What does it cost?
  10. What is included in the price I pay?
  11. How do I reach you if I have a question? Is there a charge for telephone consultation?

By: Joana Bacon

Communications Manager

O’Shea Corporate Communications

To contribute to the growth and development of the economy by providing management, technical and other assistance and information to the region’s small business community.

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