Is your business prepared for the unexpected?

canstockphoto16137245September is “National Preparedness Month.” Now is a great time to make sure your business is prepared in the event of a disaster so that you can limit the damage and get back to business as soon as possible.

Before you decide that you don’t need to read any further (because this will never happen to you), sit back and let me tell you a story.

There once was a business in Maine that manufactured a personal care product.   It had a great location in a historic building that had been converted into units for rent to small businesses.

One day, all of the employees showed up for work. It was business as usual until the fire alarm went off.

They didn’t see a fire or smell smoke. But they headed out the doors as quickly as possible, leaving their work behind. The owner grabbed her laptop as she walked out, thinking she could do some work while they waited to get back in the building.

When they did get back in, they were surprised to see that their business had been flooded. Water covered the floor, soaked boxes of inventory and damaged computers.

Where did the water come from? The business above them had a small fire that the Fire Department quickly put out. The bad news was that it took a lot of water to do so and that water soaked through the floors into their business.

They were left with a mess to clean up and one working computer, the owner’s laptop that she took with her. Fortunately that laptop contained all of the important business records.

However, cleaning up the mess and negotiating with insurance companies took a long time.

After that, the company changed the way it operated. Employees made sure their data was backed up. They kept their inventory off the floor. They reviewed insurance policies to better protect them in the future, should they experience another loss.

The moral of this story is that bad things happen that you can’t plan for or predict.  That’s why it’s critical to have a disaster-preparedness and recovery plan in place.

A “disaster” is anything that can happen that affects your ability to operate your business. It might be a widespread incident that affects an entire community, such as a hurricane or ice storm. It might be an incident that only affects your business.

That’s why it’s so important to put a plan in place to reduce the impact a disaster would have on your business and improve your chances for recovery.

I could share many more stories about businesses that have suffered losses. Some recovered, others went out of business.

So yes, this can happen to you.

Do you have a plan in place to recover when it does? Do you have the right insurance to cover your losses and pay the bills while you rebuild? Do you know how you will communicate with your key people, customers and suppliers? Are your company records and data protected?

What if a disaster strikes one of your key business partners or suppliers? Do you have a back-up plan if they go out of business temporarily or permanently?

Now is the time to think about these things and prepare a plan, before something happens that you will not see coming!

Today, the company that experienced the flood is still in business — with a disaster and recovery plan in place.

The end.

Resources to help you prepare your plan: – Maine Emergency Management Agency and – Federal Emergency Management Agency – Small Business Administration

Deb Neuman

About Deb Neuman

Deb thinks Maine is a great place to do business and loves telling the stories of Mainers proving that it can be done! An entrepreneur at heart, she enjoys helping others with the same drive to create and innovate!