Small business owners routinely prepare for operational contingencies like illness and client loss but a natural disaster like a hurricane or tornado can wipe everything away in seconds.

Is your small business prepared for that type of contingency?

According to Forbes, in many cases, the answer is no:

“While 94% of U.S. small businesses are backing up critical financial data to prepare for an emergency, only four in ten of those businesses are keeping their data off-site. But what if a flood, tornado, or other disaster damages the entire site?

Backup copies of critical records — including accounting and employee data, customer lists, and inventory — 166144370should be kept in a separate location at least 50 miles away, or maintained by an online data backup service provider, according to the Wall Street Journal’s Small Business Guidebook.”

Data backup is not the only issue. According to that Wall Street Journal Guidebook, small business owners should investigate property insurance policies as well as business interruption insurance. Backup up work sites should be scouted in advance and contingency plan developed that could be activated if a natural disaster strikes your operation.

Also, backup vendors and suppliers should be identified so that operations can continue with as little interruption as possible.

Of course, the most important asset of all are the employees. Every business should develop a disaster readiness protocol that includes business evacuation and protective sheltering of employees. Companies should also be vigilant for threatening weather and be flexible enough to allow employees to work at home or not come in at all as major storms approach.

A communication protocol should also be set up in advance to inform employees before, during and after a natural disaster. Such a protocol should be included in disaster training. The midst of a hurricane or tornado is not the time to be figuring out a method of communication.

Nobody likes to think their small business will be victim of a natural disaster. However, the relatively small amount of time it takes to plan for that contingency can literally save your employees lives’ and the company’s future as well. Like every other detail in the operation of a successful small business, it pays to think and plan for every contingency.

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