Disaster can strike at any moment, and small businesses are at a significant risk during times of turmoil. The best way to prepare for any disaster is to expect the unexpected. An important part of planning to manage a disaster is developing a plan of action, long before any sort of disaster occurs. There are three important components that should be included in a small business disaster plan:

  • Protecting Human Resources. Human resources are the most precious entities that your small business has. The safety of employees should be considered first and foremost in a disaster plan. This portion of the planning includes evacuation procedures, notifying family members, and keeping accurate contact information on file for every employee.

  • Protecting Physical Resources. The second most critical element of your small business is the physical property that allows you to do business every day. From computers to office furniture and building structures, physical resources are costly to replace. This portion of disaster planning should include a dependable backup computer system, archiving of data and information, and proper insurance coverage for the building and its contents.

  • Planning for the Business Community. If disaster strikes, it will have a greater overall impact on the business community. Your suppliers may fail to deliver key items in the event of a disaster; therefore, you need a backup plan for resupplying and for making sure that you can produce deliverables for your own customers.

Small business owners are not alone. There are many organizations, such as the Red Cross and National Guard, which provide training, support and planning advice right in your local area. Another valuable resource is the Small Business Association, who features step-by-step instructions and tips for disaster preparedness. The U.S. government also features a host of interactive online tools that are available at Ready.gov to help families and businesses prepare for any disaster.

Online resources regarding disaster preparedness are available to all types of business owners free of charge. There is no excuse for failing to access these free resources to protect your small business and employees. From natural disasters to pandemic outbreaks and hostage situations, every business needs to develop a plan of action.