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Natural disasters pose a serious threat to businesses. They stall operations, wreak havoc on physical property, and render workers paralyzed, sometimes literally. At best, enterprises hit by calamities take a long break to recover. At worst, they never get to go back.
In a country where typhoons and earthquakes are common, where volcanoes have a history of deadly explosions, it’s important to have a disaster preparedness plan in place to ensure that the business can recover and remain thriving. Here are some ways you can future-proof your venture:
Arrange a Business Continuity Plan
In this step, you’re answering how exactly you can maintain business operations even in the face of volcanic or tectonic earthquakes or horrible typhoons. The first thing you need to do here is to assign roles to key people. You want to ensure that there’s a team who will spring into action after a calamity. In general, you want someone focused on overseeing asset protection, communicating to employees, sending updates to clients or customers, and providing emergency supplies. The key to identifying areas that need supervision is pinpointing the business aspects that will be most affected when disaster strikes.
Also part of the business continuity plan is your recovery strategy. Plan how you can resume operations after a calamity. Brainstorm with your team how you can meet the demand for products and services in the event of equipment breakdown or office inavailability. Think of ways workers can do their jobs even outside the office. Will they be allowed to work from home or is there an alternative office or coworking space they can go to? Your goal is to outline operating procedures after a disaster, and make sure everyone is informed.
Backup Your Documents
Your files are among the most important assets of your business. They’re mere pieces of paper, but remember, they form the foundation of your enterprise. Include backing up files as a priority in your game plan. At the very least, you should have your personnel records, property and tax documents, financial data, business permits, and legal contracts stored in the cloud. Keep land titles, lease contracts, and your client database safe from natural disasters or human errors that might occur as a result of calamities. Even if a volcanic or tectonic earthquake did irreparable damage to your office, you can have the peace of mind that your documents are safe, that they can even be accessed anytime, wherever you are.
If the cloud isn’t an option, just make sure that you have extra copies of the important files in an offsite storage. Keep them in a deposit box or a vault. Perhaps you can also roll out a policy wherein all of your employees should scan or photocopy every important paperwork.
Create a Crisis Communication Plan
This is part of the continuity strategy, but it needs to be singled out because it’s the backbone of your business operations during a natural disaster. The last thing you need is a complaint from a client or a customer who was left in the dark regarding your situation. That said, prepare your communication plan as early as now. It should identify key audiences and the messages that would answer their specific information needs.
In general, you want to communicate with three important stakeholders: customers, employees, and suppliers. Customers would need reassurance on how and when your products or services will be delivered. Employees would need an update on their work set-up, as well as assistance benefits if they’ve been affected by the disaster. Finally, suppliers would need a heads up on the stall of operations (road closures, even). Find the best way to disseminate information fast.
Dig into Your Insurance Plan
The best time to review your plan’s coverage is before a natural calamity strikes. You won’t have the chance to change things when you’re already in panic mode. Find time to evaluate the policy you took and see if it covers the things most important to you in business.
At the very least, it should offer protection for loss or damage of property, as a result of a disaster. Some policies include this, as well as costs for alternative accommodations when your original office space is unsafe. Others also have provisions for building repairs and improvements. Does your current insurance plan have this?
Natural disasters are an inevitable risk for businesses. Especially in the Philippines, you can’t overlook disaster preparedness when running a venture. Otherwise, you’ll quickly lose the empire you’ve built for years. As a principle for success, prepare for calamities. Ask yourself now, will your business weather the worst of natural disasters?