From rising fuel prices, rising commodity prices, clients filing bankruptcy on their payables to clients not paying due to adverse credit climates, business is a challenging endeavor for any line of work. The fact of the matter is that someday, someone other than you will be in charge of your business. Whether it be your retirement, a natural disaster or acts of civil disobedience, you need to be prepared for them with succession and disaster plans at the ready.
It was just 2 and a half years 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. 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, once they shuttered, never reopened. In this case, as in many, the terrible results of natural disasters are often felt for a long time or even possibly forever
New Statistics on Natural Disasters
In 2014 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 the potential loss of business in the wake of the hurricanes and other natural disasters, businesses need to be prepared.
Natural disasters are a fact of life all over the 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 (as in a snow or ice storm), to severe (hurricanes), to termination and dissolution of the company, and even being dangerous to personnel. With disaster planning, the company can and should plan to continue in at least some capacity.
Planning for the Worst
The absolute worst thing you can do in preparation for a natural disaster or your retirement is to do nothing at all. Waiting until it is broadcast on the radio or seeing a major storm system develop on the news is not the time to begin your preparation for a disaster. At that point, communications and electrical systems may already be failing area-wide. Critical supplies needed for business continuation may have already been sold out of stores. Therefore, secondary protocol in people, location, and supply is absolutely necessary at all times. Out of state suppliers and friendly competitors should be reviewed for viability in these potential circumstances.
The best thing a business owner can and should do to continue business during and after a disaster is to begin preparation immediately. Talk to the people who are going to be helping with the disaster plan. Contact secondary suppliers. Think about where business will be conducted in the event the primary location is unavailable. The following basics of disaster and succession planning are presented in short form, herein below:
1) Written Instruments and Communication
Along with any disaster/succession plan, written instruments are a necessity. Reducing a plan to writing is the first step to make a plan achievable.
2) Security – 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. Reasonable measures must be taken in order to, if not defend the store; provide footage for law enforcement to detain the individuals responsible for the crimes committed.
3) Finances – 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 business. The solutions to the situation may not be easy. Two options exist 1) a backup generator or 2) a remote business location where company business can be conducted.
Also, your employees will need financial assistance during this time period as well. Two weeks of pay can ensure that employees can pay their bills and endure.
While business succession is much more in depth than planning for a natural disaster, every business should have a disaster and business succession plan in place. It is important that a natural disaster does not become a personal or business bankruptcy when a continuation is entirely possible and necessary.
By: Dr. Bart Basi at the Center for Financial, Legal and Tax Planning for Transworld M&A Advisors