Crisis Planning: You Can’t Do Too Much of It
The old adage—the best defense is a good offense—also applies to crisis planning. As a small business owner, you have
to ask yourself some difficult questions about potential disasters: What if the “worst” did happen? How would it affect my
business, my family, and my employees? Would we survive if the business were shut down for weeks, months, or
perhaps the entire revenue season?
The possibilities may not be pleasant to think about. But a proactive approach to managing potential disasters may help
mitigate the effects on your business, and lessen the time and resources necessary to resume normal operations. Here
are some tips for developing a crisis management strategy for your business:
Begin by identifying potential hazards. Every part of the country is susceptible to some kind of natural disaster—
hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and ice storms, to name but a few. Likewise, man-made disasters such as oil or
chemical spills, fires, and civil unrest can occur almost everywhere. The fact that your area has not experienced such
events is no guarantee that they cannot or will not happen eventually, and with little or no warning.
Develop contingency plans to continue operations if your office, plant, or store is unusable. Assess the feasibility of
operating out of your home or a nearby storefront, and what may be necessary to quickly transport critical items such
as computers, inventory, and equipment. It may also be helpful to maintain a secure off-site inventory of any hard-to-
replace parts or supplies.
Take steps to ensure the safety of employees and customers. Every business should have an evacuation plan, even if
you lease the space. Make sure that telephone numbers for an emergency are clearly posted, and that you have
updated emergency contacts and essential medical information for all employees. Training staff members in CPR and
first aid is also a worthwhile investment for any business.
Perform a safety inventory of your business