Prepare Your Small Business during September: National Preparedness Month

Guest Blogger: Becky Koch, North Dakota State University Extension Service

Business disaster

Photo (CC) WaterArchives.org, on Flickr

 

 

Small businesses often have limited resources. As such, they are vulnerable to events that interrupt their routines, big or little.

Disasters can represent such an interruption. Whether the building burns down or coffee is spilled on a computer with records, either is a disaster for a business. During September – National Preparedness Month – businesses are encouraged to look at how well they may be prepared for a disaster. After examining their situation, business owners should take the time to prepare the businesses for a disruption of any level.

Preparation starts with completing a disaster plan template, such as the one provided by the Extension Disaster Education Network at http://bit.ly/EDENReadyBiz or FEMA at www.ready.gov/business.

The steps are easy. Begin with a look at current disaster plans. The second step is to put into place procedures that would help get you back into operation as quickly as possible.

Simple steps include:

Plan to stay in business

  • Know potential disruptions
  • Assess how your company functions
  • Protect your employees
  • Provide for evacuation and sheltering in place
  • Prepare for medical emergencies (CPR, first aid, etc.)
  • Train on fire extinguishers

Talk to your people

  • Create an emergency planning team
  • Practice drills (fire, tornado, etc.)
  • Encourage employees to make home emergency supply kits and develop family emergency plans
  • Detail how you will be in contact with employees, suppliers, customers and others
  • Talk to your employees, and your own family, about the need to balance family and business needs during disasters

Protect your investment

  • Meet with your insurance provider to understand and review current and possible additional coverages, such as lost income or business disruption
  • Prepare for utility outages and disruptions
  • Secure physical assets
  • Protect your data and IT systems (off-site backup, etc.)
  • Perhaps even consider options for where you may relocate all or part of your business (i.e., what if you need cold storage or freezer space)

Many of these steps don’t take much time and cost nothing or little, but they might save lots of time and money in the event of a business disruption, whether minor, such as a contract deliverer not available, or major, such as a tornado.

You can’t protect yourself against all possible disruptions, but by taking a proactive approach, to the extent possible, you can have peace of mind and a quicker recovery if something does happen.

September Friday 15 Live Chat was recorded!

If you missed the September Friday 15 Live Chat – you can still listen to it at http://www.youtube.com/user/PowerofBusiness.  Beth Kennett from Liberty Hill Farms shares her story about attracting and keeping customers!  What a wonderful interview!

Did you know you can subscribe to the Power of Business youtube channel?  We would love to provide with new information!

 

Wow, So Much to Know!

Question Mark

Photo (CC) Colin K, on Flickr

Whether you are thinking about a business idea, just starting your business, or you have had a business for some time, it seems like there are always new questions or issues coming up. How can you keep up?

Two common ways that business managers stay up to date are, first, by talking to other business owners. That is one of the reasons for Power of Business. We want to encourage business owners to connect and engage with other business owners. Each of you have some of the answers learned through experience and your own searching for answers.

The second commonly used tool is to find resources that you consider reliable and trustworthy. You have traditional sources such as your local Extension Service office and its online presence found in each state and at eXtension.org.  You also have agencies such as the Small Business Administration, Small Business Development Centers and SCORE. Every state has other sources in addition to these found in one or more of the state agencies.

All of these resources and many others can also be found online. One of the online resources that has seen a dramatic rise in numbers are various bloggers. Again, business owners tend to find their favorite ones, people they feel provide timely, valid and reliable information. They also look for information from people who have “been there and done that” and often recommended by other owners.

When searching for bloggers or other online information providers, you can often find those who are directly in your same industry. For some time, I have followed Small Food Biz. Recent articles such as the look at why small businesses need insurance, http://www.smallfoodbiz.com/2014/07/30/the-importance-of-insurance/, quickly lay out a basic outline of the issue and some real-world reason why it is important. (This author has no relationship to this blog).

Another blogger I follow focuses on small rural business and the communities where they are located, Small Biz Survival. (This author is a guest blogger at this site). Today, you can probably find someone offering information for practically any type of business in any type of location (Just check out our list of interviews with business owners under “Friday 15.”).

The bottom line is that there are resources available to help you get the answers to your questions. And we haven’t even discussed other professionals who also can be of great service.

So when faced with a new situation or question, ask around and go online. Chances are you can find guidance from a number of sources.  However just a note of caution, not all of the information you find is correct or right for you so, again, use your resources to check and verify.

Remember, when you are running a small business, you need not feel alone.