Hurricane Hermine, the California wildfires, Hurricane Newton, Indiana tornadoes, wildfires in Spain. All spotlight the sheer power of natural disasters. Inevitably, every business must deal with an emergency. Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards require businesses with more than 10 employees to have a written plan, outlining how to deal with an emergency, such as a natural disaster. But, there’s no such requirement when it comes to other business emergencies.
How to Deal with a Business Emergency
A key employee suddenly resigns. There’s an abrupt change in cash flow. The largest client substantially reduces their demand. The scenarios are practically endless and each will wreak havoc on an unprepared business. Unfortunately, too many companies do not have an actionable plan waiting for use during an emergency. Day-to-day operations are mundane and this causes a level of apathy. When a situation arises, panic is usually the first emotion to set-in, followed by rash decisions. Of course, none of this bodes well for business and can have a long-lasting, negative impact.
It’s going to happen some day: A key employee is badly injured in an accident; a power outage knocks out your computers; a tornado takes out your warehouse. Unexpected emergencies can momentarily shut down operations, or even worse, put you out of business for weeks and force your customers to go elsewhere–and stay there. Are you prepared for this? —Entrepreneur.com
The fact of the matter is, business must learn to expect and deal with change. It’s going to happen and being prepared is a big part of coming through with as little interruption and strife as possible. But where is a business to start? What should serve as a guide to expect the unexpected? Well, it depends largely on the most common changes of circumstances. After all, you probably have an idea or a workable plan regarding your own retirement and how the business will transition. So, here are a few helpful suggestions for how to deal with a business emergency:
Make a list of expected emergencies. You know which emergencies are most likely to occur. Make a list of expected emergencies like a large, unplanned expense, the sudden absence of a key employee, and so on. Then, prioritize the list, putting the most probable at the top and working down to the least likely. By prioritizing, you’ll be more effective in planning ahead and be better logistically and emotionally prepared when it does happen.
Start to formulate plans of action. Begin to formulate a plan of action for each line item. It’s okay for these to be general and fluid because you’ll develop them in a more concrete manner. For instance, if an important employee leaves the company, who will be the first go-to team members? Are they up on the latest? What needs to be done to fill the gap in the short-term until a long-term solution is available?
Get your employees’ input. This is a great time to bring your employees into brainstorm. Their input will help the team at-large to think outside the box and to consider what has not been introduced. It’s also an ideal time to develop workable emergency action plans.
Go over likely scenarios. Next, work through likely scenarios. Do this in different ways to gain insight into which course of action works best for each type of emergency. For instance, if there is an interruption in cash flow, where will short-term funds come from? Investing in a rainy day fund will certainly be the perfect solution.
Keep your plans easily accessible. Once you have solidified various action plans for different emergency scenarios, keep these in an easily accessible place. In addition, ensure the right employees have quick access if needed.
How have you dealt with an emergency situation in the past. What’s your strategy for dealing with the inevitable interruption? Please share your experiences and join the conversation.