Monday, 19 November 2018
 
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Lighthouse Business Advisors, LLC is dedicated to
 

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We help business owners define their options, evaluate the consequences, and make choices that will lead them to Success.

 

Disaster Preparation Print

Disaster: Are you prepared?

If so, you are extraordinary, because I haven’t met anyone yet who is really prepared for a significant disruption to their business.

There are two parts to this process:

– Getting prepared: doing backups of your data, making arrangements to work in another site if necessary, setting up a call list for employees, with alternates, so you can find your people, and so on.

– Reacting when disaster strikes: knowing how to assess the damage, set priorities, and put your plans into action.

The way to be ready is planning.  There is an adage, one of my favorites: “Plans are worthless.  Planning is priceless.”  Writing a plan and putting it on the shelf is a waste of time.  The planning process is invaluable, because those who participate in the planning are prepared to take action when the need arises.  Decisions have to be made, and quickly.  People are prepared to make decisions if they have experience at assessing the situation, evaluating options and choosing the course that is most likely to yield the desired result.  The only way to get this experience, short of actually experiencing a disaster, is to plan.

I have experienced disaster.  I won’t bore you with details here, but I’ve personally experienced getting the business back in operation after several disasters:

  • I helped move the office to temporary quarters and get 250 people back to work when a tornado damaged the building where I worked;
  • I helped put the plant back to work after a small fire caused $250,000 worth of damage, and shut down our largest manufacturing plant for over a month;
  • I helped a client recover when his computer systems no longer worked because the only employee who knew how to run the system quit (no customer billings were sent out for over 60 days);
  • I’ve helped several clients recover from the loss of a major customer (thirty to fifty percent of sales);
  • The sudden death of the owner left the company rudderless.  The assets were sold to a big corporation and the business changed dramatically.

If your business could not survive being shut down for one to ten weeks, then you need to prepare for a possible disaster.  Events in St. Louis over the last several years are good examples: We had a 500-year flood that wiped out entire towns; we’ve had power outages that put 20% to 80% of companies in various areas out of business for 3-5 days; We’ve seen a $10 million printing business literally go up in smoke, never to re-appear.  The list goes on, and ignoring the issue because you are busy is just like playing the lottery, except in this case, when your number comes up, you lose.

I won’t go into detail about the planning process in this message, but just let me ask you a few questions:

- Will all of your employees be available after a disaster, or will some of your key people be at home picking up pieces?

- Will you have access to your office?  If not, how will you do business?

- If you can access the office, but don’t have power, how will you access your computer systems?  Can you do business without computers?

- If you don’t have power, how will your customers contact you?  Will your phones work? (Clue: Don’t count on cell phones; there are not enough channels available for everyone after a natural disaster.)

Do your people know what to do?  If not, you need to plan for disasters, because they will happen.
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There are many useful materials on the web. Below are a few websites with useful information about disaster preparation and recovery.

Ready.gov Overview of Disaster Preparation

Emergency Preparedness And Response (Dept. of Labor)

Red Cross -- Disaster Preparation

Red Cross -- After a Disaster

The planning process will help you to decide which issues are your highest priorities, and how you want to prepare for potential problems.  Preparing for disaster is just like buying insurance.  You spend money now, to be prepared when bad things happen later.  I can help your company with this planning process.  If you want to make sure you will be ready for the next disaster, call me.  I’ll help your team prepare.