The fact of the matter is that businesses in this country and all over the world face a gauntlet of peril. From rising fuel prices, rising commodity prices, clients filing bankruptcy on their payables, clients not paying, or even adverse credit climates, business is a challenging endeavor for any line of work. However, there are threats beyond the day-to-day issues.
It was just over a month ago that Superstorm Sandy swept through the Northeast. In its aftermath, approximately seventy-seven billion dollars ($77,000,000,000) of insured losses have been reported. Now, the hurricane that was all over, the news is now becoming part of our collective memory. The legacy it leaves behind on the businesses of the Northeast is unfortunately, ongoing. Many businesses in the area have shuttered and will never reopen. In this case, as in many, the terrible results of natural disasters are often felt for a long time.
New Statistics on Natural Disasters
In 2012 so far, the nation experienced a number of natural disasters. In fact, in the past 15 years, natural disasters have increased 40%.
In terms, of human suffering, property loss, and potentially the loss of business and commerce in the wake of the hurricanes and other natural disasters, businesses need to be prepared.
Natural disasters are a fact of life on this planet. With earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tidal waves, tsunamis, tornados, and such, at some point nearly everyone and every business will be touched by a natural disaster. The consequences can range from minimal (in a snow or ice storm), to severe (hurricanes), to termination and dissolution of the company, to even being dangerous to personnel. With disaster planning, the company can and should plan to continue in at least some capacity.
The absolute worst thing to do to prepare for a natural disaster is to do nothing at all. Upon learning that a major storm system is developing is not the time to begin your preparation for a disaster. The best thing a business owner can do to continue business is to begin preparation immediately and have the plan at the ready. The basics are presented in short form below.
1) Written Instruments & Communication
Along with any disaster plan, written instruments are necessary. Reducing a plan to writing is a sure sign that the plan is being developed in a manner which is achievable.
Ready.gov provides a written form for which your business can use to prepare and commit to paper. Check signing authority in an alternative person is a must. If the key person can’t come in, there must be a back up.
If you provide consumer goods such as groceries and other necessary supplies, security is a must. Over the past decades, whenever there is a natural disaster or riot, the first thing looted tends to be consumer goods stores. While it is illegal for the population to loot, police cannot always protect those businesses and prosecute the individuals responsible for the chaos. Reasonable measures must be take in order to, if not defend the store; provide footage for law enforcement to catch the individuals responsible for the crimes there committed.
Without the proper finances in place, your business could be shut down. Modern day financing relies heavily on electronic mediums such as credit card readers and telecommunications.
The bottom line is, if there is no power, there is no money. The solutions to the situation may not be easy, therefore advanced planning is necessary.
Your employees will also need financial assistance during this time period as well. Two weeks of pay can ensure that employees 1) can pay their bills and endure, and 2) come back as they will be obligated to work for the pay advance you provided them with. This assurance is a good thing to have especially when key employees may be having second thoughts about returning after a large natural disaster.
A whole wealth of information is provided at ready.gov for individuals and businesses. Just remember that alongside the business, individuals must be taken care of as well. If the individual employees cannot endure their own personal situation, they will be unwilling to stay. Ready.gov provides insight for personal readiness as well and should be followed despite any situation
Every business should have a disaster plan in place in order to survive a natural disaster ranging from the smallest to devastating. People face challenges and businesses do as well. It is important that a natural disaster does not become a personal or business bankruptcy, where a continuation is possible and necessary.
By: Dr. Bart Basi at the Center for Financial, Legal and Tax Planning for Transworld M&A Advisors