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Disaster Planning for Small Business

Nov 9, 2007
No one knows just how many small businesses owners lost everything in Hurricane Katrina. No one knows how many will be able to come back from disaster. But the odds are that the ones who successfully rebuild there businesses will be the ones who had a disaster plan in place before the hurricane struck. A solid small business disaster plan has three components, protecting human resources, protecting physical resources and planning for business continuity.

If you're a sole proprietor, your plans to protect your human resources probably dovetail easily with your plans to protect your home and family. However, if you have employees, you need a more detailed plan to estimate how long employees will be unable to get to work, what your policy will be for compensation while employees are out of work after a disaster, and how you will make payroll if computer systems and banks are inaccessible.

You will also need an immediate disaster response plan to cover what you and your employees will do in an emergency and during its aftermath to protect life and limb. This plan should include things like administering first aid, food and water storage, establishing a company-wide meeting place and proper safety precautions that you and your employees should take during and after a disaster.

Protecting your physical resources is more complicated depending on whether you own or lease the building that houses your business. If your building is leased you will need to work with your landlord to develop a solid property protection plan for the building. You and your employees will need to develop a separate plan to protect assets in the leased space such as furniture and computers. If you own your building, consulting with an architect or engineer about your building's capabilities in a disaster can help you plan what measures need to be taken to protect it. Your local chamber of commerce or Small Business Administration can provide you with a property protection checklist to incorporate into your disaster plan.

Having employees present in an undamaged building after a disaster won't do any good if you don't have the critical records you need to run your business. A business continuity plan will ensure that you have procedures in place to protect your vital paper and electronic records. A business continuity plan also needs to address issues like interruption of deliveries from upstream suppliers and estimates of your company's ability to deliver to your customers after a disaster.
About the Author
Jonathon Hardcastle writes articles on many topics including Business , Real Estate , and Employment
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