Hurricane Harvey is soon to arrive in the lower regions of the U.S., with experts predicting it could become a Category 3 hurricane by the time it makes landfall. Wind speeds of 111 miles an hour or more will certainly have an effect on life and property, but business owners have their own special set of concerns to tackle — how to protect their business before the storm and deal with the aftermath that inevitably follows. The question being asked by many small business owners might be “is it too late?” as the hurricane is expected to hit land late Friday or early Saturday.
Here are some of the most important steps you still have time to take when mitigating loss to your small business.
1. Protect Your Data
While you may not have time to transfer physical goods or product inventory to safety, all your digital files, bookkeeping records and customer info should already be partially backed up to second, physical location (such as a hard drive stored offsite) or a cloud-based destination. Even if you’ve failed to take such measures already, you can still make a difference now. Make a quick inventory of the priority items that would cripple your business if lost and take action.
For most people, this includes customer order data, email communications or finance records. Create special folders for these items and back them up immediately while you still have power, Internet connectivity and bandwidth. When the storm hits, you will likely lose all three of these, so put this at the top of your emergency preparedness list.
2. Get Insured
The worst time to buy insurance is after you need it, and yet, too many business owners fail to understand what exactly their policies cover. Many of the consequences of a disaster such as Harvey will likely not be paid for in full; this will leave business owners with mounds of ruined inventory, lost business operation time, and even destruction of their primary physical headquarters.
Most insurers give you until midnight on the date of a disaster to make changes, so get on the phone now with your agent and see what will be covered – and what won’t. It’s likely that you’ll find an exclusion or two in your coverage that will become costly when the hurricane hits. Bite the bullet and pay more for premiums now if you’re in the direct line of the storm. You can always cancel your extra coverage later, should you not need it.
3. Find Funding
Despite your best attempts to seek shelter and protect your business, there is just no guarantee that all will end well. This fact shouldn’t frighten you into being passive with your business, however. Start looking now for the financial means to repair and replace, and you’ll avoid the scramble many businesses find themselves in after a storm.
You don’t want to be one in a sea of faces hoping for a small business loan or a new business line of credit in the days after the hurricane. Be proactive by seeing if you’re eligible for a small business credit card with favorable rates, and get approved before the storm strikes. It’s just one more way to take control of what will seem very uncontrollable come this weekend. Your personal and business credit scores may be used as part of the approval process for a business loan, line of credit or credit card (depending on what you apply for). You can check both your personal and business credit scores for free on Nav.
4. Join Forces
The best part of being a business owner is that you are in good company. Today’s entrepreneur enjoys connecting with other owners and sharing wisdom, advice and support – especially in times like these. You may find that your local business community is already publicizing efforts to share ideas for surviving the storm and getting back on track after any damage is done. Check with your local Chamber of Commerce to see what other businesses are planning, or search your local Facebook groups and pages for ideas on how companies can pool resources to better protect the business community. There is truly strength in numbers.
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