With the recent frequency of hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, floods and wildfires, it's worth reviewing ideas to ensure your business can survive if it faces its own disaster. Here are some steps you can take to create a disaster plan for your business:
- Identify your exposure. The first step is to conduct an evaluation of your business to identify possible threats. Threats will vary by business depending on geography, industry, size and other factors. Once the threats are identified, create lists of risks your business would face under each type of threat.
- Mitigate where possible. Once you understand your business risks, brainstorm steps you can take to mitigate your exposure. For example, if loss of data is a common risk, implementing an off-site backup system might be a good idea. The more you can minimize risks on the front end, the quicker you can get back to normal operations after a disaster strikes.
- Create a disaster plan. Decide in advance what steps you and the business will take if a disaster happens. This will include things like communication, medical considerations, evacuation routes, stay-in-shelter plans, and equipment protection. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) put together a business information booklet to help you consider all factors.
- Test your plans. Once your plans are in place, test as many of them as you can. These tests will help you identify potential holes in your plans and serve as a great way to communicate the processes to your employees. Going through the motions in a test environment will increase your chance of success if you experience a real emergency.
- Understand tax deductions. If you incur losses from a disaster, there are many factors that go into how the losses are deducted on your taxes. Some of the considerations are insurance proceeds, basis adjustments, disaster classifications and improvement capitalization. Set up a meeting to discuss what is best for your situation.
Disasters are often unavoidable, but having a plan in place before they hit can reduce the impact they have on your business and employees.