September 16, 2017
Hurricane #Irma has come and gone; leaving a trail of destruction in its path. As I sat in the dark on Monday morning with no power, I wondered how many of my fellow entrepreneurs were also in the dark and how our businesses would fare after the storm. I reached out to a few business owners that I know and pulled together a list of some of the things we did before, during and after the storm. One thing I can’t stress enough is that preparation does not equal panic. Life and success favors those who are prepared. Hopefully these tips will help your business prepare to not only survive but thrive during a storm.
Before the storm
If you are relatively sure you will be affected by a storm, start your preparations early because you must prepare twice. First you have to make sure your home and family is safe and secure. Then you must activate your contingency plan for your business. In addition to things like making sure any products and supplies that you use stay safe and dry and reviewing your business insurance policy, here are a few more things to consider:
- How you will communicate with your clients and vendors before and after the storm? Jot down your thoughts so it will be easy to write the documents if needed.
- Are there any client projects that you can complete early so you can send the final invoice while you still have power and internet? This works especially well if the client is not in the path of the storm. Having those Accounts Payables come in right after the storm can help make up for a lull in business from local clients.
- Did you back up your files? I know many of us have our devices set to perform backups at regular intervals but storms don’t come on schedule. I actually have two back-up drives; one I use to back up my files monthly and one I use to back up my files quarterly. I used both drives to make sure I didn’t lose any of my work during the storm.
During the storm
As Hurricane #Irma made its way across Florida she left over 60% of the state’s home and businesses without power. While I didn’t lose power until after the storm was supposedly over, having something to do other than listening to the wind and rain rattle my windows was helpful. I knew I had a presentation coming up so I worked on my talking points during the storm. An artist friend, Arthur Dawson, worked in his sketch book during the storm. When he posted the sketch “Boys Will Be Boys” on Social Media the response was so overwhelming that he decided to sell copies of it.
Do you have “busy work” that you been putting off, like filing? These types of tasks can be completed without technology. You can also grab a notepad and pen and:
- Think though your current processes and brainstorm ideas for improvement.
- Formalize your goals and objectives for the next quarter.
- Get started on or work on the next chapter of your book.
If you can make the most of your down time, you never know what great new product or service the storm can blow into your business.
After the storm
First, stop and give thanks that you survived. If you still have life you are blessed. You can always buy new things but you are irreplaceable. Next assess your situation. You must determine:
- If any damages you sustained are covered by insurance? What steps can you take to make sure you don’t suffer any additional loss while you are waiting for your claim to be paid. And if you didn’t have insurance, do you need to buy it before the next storm?
- Did you have adequate savings? One business owner that I spoke to had emergency savings but after #Irma realize that they needed to more than double their savings. If you had no savings, make sure you build this into your business financial plan.
- What will it take to become fully operational again? If you have a service based business, it may only take waiting for your power and internet to come back on line. But if you have a physical location, it may take some time before you are back at 100%. Is there a way that you can still serve you customer’s needs while you wait?
Finally, don’t cause any self-inflicted wounds. There was a café owner is Jones County, George who berated some of his employees on Social Media because they didn’t come to work. The café may have had power but some of the employees did not. Furthermore, Public Safety officials were still recommending that people in some areas of the city stay home. In spite of all of this, the café owner took to his Facebook business page and expressed his “embarrassment by the selfishness of his staff” and apologized to his customers. The backlash was swift as FB posters were upset that it seemed “a local business owner cares more about profit than employee’s safety”. Even though the owner apologized, he had to shut down his page and now people are boycotting his business. Much of the good will that was gained by opening up after the storm was lost by publicly berating his employees who followed the orders of public safety officials.
Hurricane #Irma arrived in Florida not long after #Hurricane Harvey flooded Texas. So, it’s no longer a question of if another storm will arrive but when. Preparation is the key to riding out the winds and rain so your business can thrive even in stormy weather.
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