Prepare Your Business for the Unexpected- Here's How

Here are 3 steps for getting ahead of business disruptions and preparing your veteran-owned business for the unexpected.

September, National Preparedness Month, is a good occasion to take stock and develop critical plans for how your business will respond – and ideally stay up and running – in an emergency or disaster.

Follow these three steps to plan ahead and protect your business from disaster. 

Assistance for Midwest Veteran Business Owners affected by recent National disasters is available. Read the SBA Disaster Assistance Loan Fact Sheet  here. 

What are the potential risks and vulnerabilities of your business?

First, consider what types of emergencies or disasters are most likely to happen based on your business type and geographic location.

Next, evaluate vulnerabilities your business might face in each of these scenarios and whether there’s any way to address them and mitigate risk. For example, would your restaurant lose thousands of dollars worth of refrigerated and frozen foods in the event of an extended power outage? If so, consider whether a backup generator is a worthwhile and feasible investment for your business.

Maintaining a reserve fund, making structural upgrades to your business’s physical space, and keeping up-to-date insurance are key factors in mitigating your risk. Take a deeper dive into risk assessment with FEMA’s OPEN training and the Ready.gov risk assessment tool

Develop a business continuity plan.

A business continuity plan ensures that you and your team members are on the same page about what action steps to take and what everyone’s responsibilities are if a disaster occurs. Crucially, it also outlines how you will keep the business operating during a disaster.

Your business continuity plan should start with a business impact analysis (BIA).

 The business impact analysis builds on what you learned from your risk assessment and examines the potential impacts of business disruptions during or after a disaster. These impacts could include lost or delayed sales or income, contract breaches, and more.

Your plan should also outline key personnel and resources that will be involved in recovery efforts. Finally, it should list any recovery strategies you plan to use. According to Ready.gov, these can include tactics like telecommuting, contracting with third-party manufacturers, setting up a website form to ensure customers can reach you, and more.

Note that while your business continuity plan may outline some steps you and your employees would take during an emergency, you should also develop a separate emergency response plan to fully flesh out those details. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) website offers emergency planning checklists broken down by specific disaster types.

Visit Ready.gov for further information about how to conduct a BIA and how to compile a business continuity plan.  

Prepare to pivot.

It’s important to inventory tools and resources that could help your business post-emergency before one ever strikes.

For example, the SBA provides a variety of loan options to assist small businesses when disasters and business disruptions occur. Economic Injury Disaster Loans are available to small businesses that have suffered substantial damage as a result of federally declared disasters.  Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (MREIDL).help cover operating expenses if an essential employee is called to active duty. You can read about all the SBA’s disaster assistance loans here.

SBA resource partners like Veterans Business Outreach Centers are available to help you navigate the recovery process. What’s more, these organizations support you in developing business continuity and emergency response plans before a disaster happens. Connect with a local resource partner via the SBA’s website.

Emergency planning isn’t always an intuitive process. It can be hard to envision what things will look like or what you’ll need after an emergency or disaster happens. If you are a Veteran or Military Family Business Owner VetBiz is here to help. Our Counselors can help you plan ahead and collaborate with you on recovery strategies after a business disruption occurs.

Request a Consultation Today.

This blog was originally written by the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Veterans Business Development.

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