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Prepare for the worst of times

October 26, 2010 | By Bruce Hourigan | No Comments

From oil spills to hurricanes, flash floods to tornados, the news is full of frightening headlines. The truth is that disaster can strike anywhere, at any time. Even scarier, you can’t be fully prepared for a catastrophe. However, there are certain steps that will help make a disastrous situation less devastating.

While no one likes to think about the worst that can happen, planning for disaster may be the difference between losing a business and re-opening in a timely manner. These tips will help you be better prepared, come what may.

  • Expected the unexpected. True, you never know when a disaster will strike. Floods, earthquakes, ice storms, landslides, oil spills, fires, employee illness or death, and terrorism are just a few of the catastrophes that can befall a business. You can be fairly confident that, sooner or later, you’re going to have to deal with some sort of troubles. Certain parts of the country have higher risks for hurricanes or other natural disasters. Learn specific risks for your area, so you can take appropriate preventative action.
  • Have a disaster plan. Decide information such as what records need to be stored off-site and where to keep them, and how to notify your staff in case of emergency. Make sure that all your insurance is up-to-date, including flood insurance, which many people neglect to purchase.
  • Know your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to coping. Some of us like to take charge right away, while others show their strengths as the crisis wears on. Know where you might need help and secure a co-commander ahead of time, someone who complements your skills and style of leadership. Remember, your employees will need lots of direction and reassurance.
  • Get your staff involved now. For example, enlist your team in developing an evacuation plan, putting together safety kits and marking emergency exits. Make a point of reviewing the plan on a regular basis and be sure to go over it with new hires. Make sure your staff understands the plan. Talk to your local police and fire officials if you want more assistance.
  • Be prepared for small crises, too. A broken dryer or temporarily closed road certainly doesn’t have the same magnitude as a fire or extended power outage. But such small crises can have significant impact on your business, as well. Have a plan for these extraordinary incidents, from how to pay for them to how to notify staff and customers.

Crises are a fact of life. Whether you have a few hours warning or it takes you totally unaware, remember that your employees will take their cues from you. Breathe deeply and stay calm. Your staff needs to see the competent leader you are, through the difficult days and as you navigate your way back to more ordinary times.

Categories: Business Builders

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