You might not be thinking about winter weather just now, but after last year’s arctic blast, it might be a good idea. The Farmer’s Almanac predicts well below normal temperatures for the central United States, especially next February. Sort of conjures up old memories of frozen pipes and power outages, doesn’t it?

As a business owner, you don’t have to resign yourself to a repeat. A basic preparedness plan can help you take all varieties of disaster in stride, from tornadoes to floods to fires to pandemics and more. Being prepared could make the difference between staying open … and not. According to FEMA, a whopping 40% of small businesses close permanently after a disaster, and an additional 25% fail within one year.

Improve the odds for your business. Step One is to identify the risks, those large-scale disasters that are a threat to your business. Here in Kansas, we face the threat of tornadoes every year. The pandemic has brought numerous businesses large and small to their knees over the past 18 months. You could start by spending just 15 minutes reviewing an SBA and Agility Recovery checklist to make your business more prepared.

Step Two is to make a plan. Your goal is to ensure the well-being of your employees, the stability of your location, and your ability to keep your business up and running. Multiple resources abound; you do not have to reinvent the wheel here, and most good plan templates also offer ways to address items that may be specific to your business. Risk management experts agree that the most helpful item is an up-to-date inventory of your assets. Most business owners can knock this one out in about an hour. Then schedule time to update that inventory list quarterly — or at least once a year. This is a good time to sit down with your insurance agent, too.

Step Three is a little harder: implement and train. The key is identifying things you can do now — with no disaster looming on the horizon — so you won’t have to frantically try and get them done in the hours or minutes before disaster strikes. For example, in the event of a weather emergency, employee safety is the number one priority. Having a well-stocked emergency preparedness kit is key. By planning ahead, you can have employee go bags ready as well.

Step Four is stepping up to be a preparedness leader in your community. In a disaster situation, you could be at the mercy of your least-prepared neighbor. The longer it takes for your community to get back up to speed, the longer it will be before your business ramps back up. Our community always steps up to help our fellow citizens in the aftermath of a disaster. Think about how good it would be for the community to come together before an emergency hits.

Here at the Chamber we are happy to share a wide range of resources that can make it easier to create or update a solid disaster emergency plan. Email us at chamber@emporiakschamber.org, give us a call at 620-342-1600, or stop by the Trusler Business Center at 719 Commercial Street between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. We’d love to walk you through the process.

It’s a great day in Emporia!

“Let’s Talk Business” is a weekly column of the Emporia Area Chamber of Commerce and Visit Emporia. The mission of the Chamber is to be proactive in creating an environment for business and community success, guided by the vision that positive attitudes promote positive actions. Contact us at 620-342-1600 or chamber@emporiakschamber.org and visit our website at www.emporiakschamber.org.

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