Sage Advice

Ten Tips to Prepare Your Business for a Weather Emergency

The winter of 2013 has turned out to be fraught with weather-related challenges for businesses in the U.S. Being unprepared to handle a major ice, snow, or any other storm can prove to be costly for businesses in terms of time and money. Indeed a recent Sage North America survey found that 34 percent of small businesses will have their bottom line affected by the inclement weather this winter. This begs the question, how can a small business owner prepare for the affects of adverse weather? Below are a few tips for small businesses to consider—a starting point to help prepare for, deal with, and overcome an emergency situation.

  1. Develop a basic emergency plan—Outlining the main issues your business could potentially face and the actions that you would need to take to prevent and/or resolve crisis situations will give you a great advantage if an emergency does occur. Research government agency or business association websites, such as the Small Business Administration or The Centre for Excellence in Emergency Preparedness for resources and strategies to deal with both natural and manmade disasters.
  2. Educate and prepare your staff—For the plan to be fully successful, your employees must be aware of the procedures it describes. Only share sensitive information in the plan with those who need to know it, but do share general actions and perform emergency drills and exercises. The more prepared they are for an emergency, the more they will be able to help your business respond and recover from such a situation.
  3. Designate an emergency point person—It is essential that more than one person knows critical information such as passwords or the location of important documents. Select a trusted person who can implement the emergency plan, handle financial or legal matters, or recover information in the event that you are unable to do it.
  4. Back up essential data—Whether you choose an on-site system, an off-site server, or the cloud, backing up your information could be the difference between emergency recovery and the end of your business. Backups should be performed a few times a week and whenever you upload a large amount of information. If you live in regions that are prone to sever winter conditions, tornados, hurricanes, or earthquakes, an off-site server or the cloud may be your best option. Make sure you choose a solution with a strong brand that has a proven track record for providing secure systems. Your accounting software provider, like Sage, can be a good source.
  5. Develop a business continuity plan—After developing an emergency plan, your team should know what their responsibilities are and how to react should those circumstances arise. But what happens after the emergency situation happens? How do you keep your business running while you’re still recovering from the effects of an event? This is where a business continuity plan comes into play. It is a proactive plan that ensures that operations continue during a disruption.
  6. Create an exit strategy—The Sage survey found that 57 percent of small businesses do not have an exit strategy. Although you may think this step is not essential to your business, defining an exit plan may save you trouble in case of an unforeseeable situation.
  7. Have a lawyer available—Hiring an attorney has become an important part of doing business. A lawyer can help guide and protect you through the legal aspects of preventing or solving an issue, such as an accident in your facilities or a product recall.
  8. Invest in prevention—Whether it is the installation of a security system or a waterproof safe, investing now may save you thousands if and when a crisis hits.
  9. Get insurance—Although insurance may be costly and seem unnecessary for a rare, potential event, you’ll be glad your business is covered if the situation does arise. The best return on insurance is no return at all.
  10. Consult with a professional—If you are unsure about how to identify the potential issues that your business needs to be prepared for or how to plan for recovery, it’s a good idea to speak with a business consultant. A professional will not only be able to recognize possible crises you may not have considered, but also inform you of the best solutions for your type of business.

Life is full of unexpected events. The more you prepare your business for potential emergencies, the easier and cheaper it will be for your business to recover.




Nexus: G-WEBCD1