When a natural disaster strikes, it can be emotionally and financially devastating for victims. Small businesses and entrepreneurs are also victims of these horrific events and 40% to 60% of small businesses don’t reopen in the aftermath of a natural disaster.
As a business owner, it’s important to have a plan of action for natural disasters. If you’re prepared for emergency events, you’re more likely to recover from them quickly and reopen your doors for business.
Appraise the Damage
When it’s safe to visit your business, the first thing you’ll need to do is survey the damage. Look over the building, electronics, and other equipment to get an idea of the repairs and replacements you may need to make to get back up and running.
Make a list of what needs to be done and the expenses you may incur to get your business back to where it needs to be. Take photos to document the current state of your business and take notes on what has sustained damage.
When you understand the damage and what needs to be done, you can create a plan of action on how you’ll take on this project efficiently so your company can get back to business quickly.
Communicate With Your Employees and Clients
Communication with your employees, clients, and stakeholders is crucial during and after a natural disaster. First, check on employees and make sure they’ve made it through the event unscathed. If your employees need assistance, offer what you can to ensure they can get back on their feet quickly as well.
Your employees will need to know when to report back to work or what your expectations are for their performance. If you want your employees to work remotely, provide the tools they’ll need to begin and address any concerns or questions they have.
Be sure you establish solid lines of communication with employees so they can check in with you about issues. You also want to be able to contact them if you need assistance putting the business back together.
Let your stakeholders and clients know how your business fared after the disaster. Your clients are essential to your business’s success. If there will be delays in deliveries or services, provide this information to your clients and address any questions they may have. Communicate your plan of action for recovery to your stakeholders so they also know when you plan to be fully functional and in the office.
Be Flexible With Your Employees
It’s important to remember that your employees experienced a natural disaster as well. Their family or home may have been negatively impacted by the event, which can be stressful and emotional.
Even if your employees weren’t directly impacted by what occurred, they may still feel emotional for the devastation their community has felt. Be gentle with your employees and flexible with their ability to focus on work. You may need to be open to allowing them time off to deal with their own personal issues.
If your employees are working from home as you repair your business, keep in mind that this may be new for them. Their home-work environment may make it hard for them to be as productive as they would be in the office. They may also not have access to the supplies and equipment they need to efficiently do their jobs.
Showing empathy and understanding of their current situation keeps your workers invested in the welfare of your business and improves employee morale. Ensure you maintain a healthy workplace culture, even if your employees aren’t working in the same building together.
Get in Touch With Your Insurance Company
As a small business owner, you may be bonded and insured with several types of coverage. Contact the proper companies to report the damage your business incurred from the natural disaster. It’s important to file claims for your damages as soon as possible.
If your business has broken windows or is easily accessible, it could be more vulnerable to vandalism or theft. When you make an insurance claim, the company can help you financially to secure your business so additional damages don’t occur as you’re beginning to make repairs.
Reach Out to Your Community
Although you own a small business and not a large company, you may have resources and manpower to help your community recover from a natural disaster. Reach out to your community and see how you can help.
Recruiting employees to help clean community parks or bag canned goods at a food bank helps your community bounce back from the event. Giving back also allows your staff to grow as a team and feel good about helping.
Begin Recovery as Quickly as Possible
To get your employees back to work and your business profitable again, begin the recovery process immediately. If you sustained extensive damage, you may need to hire a construction company to help with rebuilding. Ensure the contractor has adequate insurance by asking about:
- A certificate of insurance.
- The contractor’s liability insurance.
- A contractor bond to protect the contractor and workers.
- A performance bond to protect your interests.
- Bid bonds to solidify deals between the contractor and manager.
If you can get your business recovered and fully operational quickly, you’re likely to beat out your competition and impress your clients.
Make Any Desired or Needed Changes
This forced downtime is ideal for reassessing your business practices, operations, and location. You may want to relocate your business, expand your offerings, or reorganize your current procedures.
Consider the challenges you face as a small business owner and what you can do to make your company more productive and your processes more streamlined.
Once you’ve recovered from this natural disaster, it’s time to prepare for a future event. Analyze how your company handled this disaster so you can create an upgraded emergency plan for the next one. Consult professional natural disaster resources to ensure you’re adequately preparing your business for potential disasters.
Your small business will recover quickly and fully from a natural disaster if you take the steps necessary to rebuild. By preparing yourself for the next event, you’ll reduce downtime and make it easier for your business to increase productivity after recovery.
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