Editor's note: This was originally posted by Karen Mills on the "Open For Business" blog from the Small Business Administration.
Sometimes disasters strike without warning, such as earthquakes, including the one millions of Americans felt today on the East Coast. Other times, we have a few days to prepare, like we have right now with Hurricane Irene approaching the Carolinas. In the case of any natural or man-made disaster, small business owners should have a disaster preparedness plan in place and ready to go.
It’s often difficult for small business owners – some of the busiest people in America – to look beyond the most pressing, immediate business concerns. But an “ounce of prevention” today could mean the difference in whether a business is able to survive a disaster and quickly return to regular operations.
A few quick tips:
- Make and keep an extra set of copies of important documents, such as insurance policies and financial records.
- Check to make sure your employee and customer contact information is up-to-date and easy to access.
- Be prepared to provide regular communications in anticipation of, during, and after a disaster to all of your stakeholders.
Most of all, we encourage everyone in the community to listen to local public officials. If they say to close up shop or evacuate, don’t hesitate.
In addition, I encourage small business owners throughout the country to check out federal resources and tips at www.ready.gov/business as well as a business readiness evaluation tool from the American Red Cross available for free at www.readyrating.org.
We’ve had many major natural disasters in the U.S. this year: floods, tornadoes, droughts, fires, earthquakes, and, now, hurricanes. The chances of a small business surviving a disaster is largely dependent on how prepared they are.
And make no mistake. After a major disaster strikes, the SBA will be there. We will activate our on-call reservists and start providing low-interest loans to homeowners, renters, businesses, and nonprofit organizations.
While we all hope that Hurricane Irene weakens over the coming days, we must remain vigilant. And we know that another hurricane – or another unexpected threat – could be just around the corner. There is no time like the present to ensure that America’s small business owners are ready for whatever comes their way.