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Getting Back to Business After a Natural Disaster

Between Hurricane Sandy and our more recent nor’easter along the east coast, we’ve seen plenty of evidence of the havoc Mother Nature can wreak on small businesses. But what happens if your business is affected by a natural disaster like these ones? How can you get back to business as quickly, and painlessly, as possible?

While some areas will be so devastated that you simply cannot re-open your doors for a while (if at all), here are three things that might help less-affected business owners get back on their feet.

  1. Install a generator. — If your business is located in an area that’s routinely hit by natural disasters, consider installing a power generator. While this might not be enough for a large business, a generator should be able to keep your lights, phones, and a few computers or cash registers going. That might be the difference between being out of business and keeping some income flowing in.
  2. Look to the Web. — Make sure your company has a Web presence. If you’re a retailer, you might be able to keep retail operations online going even if a physical location loses power temporarily.  If nothing else, you can use your website (which should stay online because you’ll have it hosted off-site at a hosting company’s datacenter) to keep customers informed. That can help you protect your image and maintain customer awareness even while your doors are closed.
  3. Let employees work from home. — If you run a type of business where employees can work from home occasionally, have a system in place to encourage that. For example, you might give key employees laptops instead of desktop computers. Or you could give them remote login access to their work computers or the company server so they can access their work from home. This way if a disaster affects the business but not necessarily employees’ homes (such as more isolated flooding), it doesn’t have to completely uproot your day-to-day operations.

These aren’t the only things that will help you get back to business after a natural disaster. For example, you’ll obviously want to contact your insurance agent quickly to make sure your covered damages are addressed as soon as possible. What other tips would you offer to small businesses dealing with natural disasters? Has your business been affected by one? How, and how did you recover afterward? Share your tips and stories with us in the comments.

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