How Do You Prepare Your Business For Natural Disasters
When businesses are affected by natural disasters the impact can be catastrophic and have prolonged impacts on work life and communities. The effects can be devastating, they can impact your supply chain, the building and infrastructure of your business, ruin assets, your customer intake as well as create an unsafe working environment for your employees. Recovering from these events can take weeks, months and even years to get back up and running again.
Whilst not contingent, the length and costs of recovery after a natural disaster can be significantly lessened by being prepared and aware. We know this is a sensitive topic and hope this article assists in future prevention or limitation of damages.
Here are a few examples and ideas on how can you better prepare and protect your business for natural disasters and what help is out there if an event occurs.
Prepare in advance ;Create a disaster plan ;
The best way for your business to manage a natural disaster is to have a plan before it hits.
- Identify the natural disasters prone to your area
- Identify the vulnerabilities to your business in each disaster scenario and mitigate the risks
- Create an evacuation plan and kit (Inc. contact lists, important documents storage, designated meeting places)
- Implement communication plans for effective communication during an emergency
- Organise staff meetings to ensure everyone is aware of the plan
- Work out how the property of business will be prepared and protected
For more ideas on what your business may need to do to be prepared for a disaster, the QLD government site has a great checklist resource you can use for different natural disasters - check it out here - https://www.business.qld.gov.au/running-business/protecting-business/disaster-resilience/preparing-disasters
Check and review your businesses insurance coverage. Look into what your current policy covers (property damage, employees on your payroll, commercial vehicles, and any other assets). Ensure the coverage limit is sufficient to cover the loss of your business in the event of a natural disaster. Upon investigation, you may find you need to invest in additional coverage or have gaps missing in what you want covered.
Back up documents and data regularly ;
For many reasons, businesses should always back up documents and data regularly whether this be electronically or physical. It is also a good idea to store physical paperwork in an off-site location and make copies as needed, e.g. payroll information, tax documents, insurance claims, etc. Doing this will ensure you don't lose any information you will require when getting your business back up and running.
Government relief grants and payments ;
The Australian government offers numerous means of natural disaster financial relief support. These types of assistance and support vary from one off payments to short term allowances and are specialised for businesses affected by a natural disaster. For more information and examples of grants currently available you can head over to https://business.gov.au/risk-management/emergency-management/assistance-for-businesses-affected-by-floods .
Bank loans –
Banks can also be a source of added income during a natural disaster. Banks like the Commonwealth Bank of Australia can offer their Emergency Assistance package to help you or your business if you've been impacted by a natural disaster.
Take care of your mental health –
Mental health can suffer after a natural disaster, you can often experience a range of thoughts, replay the event and your actions in your head, feel overwhelmed and have problems concentrating and making decisions. Whilst there are many common reactions to a stressful or traumatic event, it is important to know how and where to seek further help and support if you find you are struggling to manage. One support offered is the Federal Government's 'New Access' services which provides funding to Beyond Blue (https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/natural-disasters-and-your-mental-health) to support the mental health and wellbeing of small business owners who are impacted by natural disasters and pandemics.
For small businesses a natural disaster can be enough to end the business entirely. Therefore it's so important to be prepared and think ahead for what could happen, and this may leave you with the opportunity to assist your fellow community members with the recovery.