Last week, flooding destroyed Ellicott City, MD for the second time in two years. In Hawaii, the volcanic eruption has destroyed homes and left people without water, power and cellphone reception. And, as of June 1, we have officially entered hurricane season for the Atlantic Basin.
What if there’s a threat or unexpected event in your area? Is your creative business prepared for a natural disaster? Do you know how to prepare?
If you’re like most small businesses, the honest answers are No and I haven’t really thought about it.
Well, please do– think about it and prepare. Here are some disaster preparation tips for creative businesses that may help.
Protect Your Files
A lot of people have backup storage like hard drives and memory cards, but they’re in the same place as their computer. Having all your files stored in one location is extremely risky.
What are you going to do if something happens to that building? You could lose years or a lifetime of work.
Store copies of your files in at least two locations. For example, you can keep one set at your home and one set at your office or a relative’s house.
And even if you have physical devices in separate locations, consider options like cloud storage or a dedicated server, so you to access your files from anywhere.
Backup Your Contacts
Too many people rely too heavily on Backup Assistant, that glorious feature that’s conveniently programmed on your phone.
Take it from me. I’m a professional phone-breaker and I cannot tell you how many times I’ve lost contacts relying on Backup Assistant. All my contacts didn’t disappear, just certain ones. But sometimes they were contacts that really mattered.
As with the storage of your files, I urge you to store details for important contacts somewhere other than programs directly linked to your phone or a memory card that you keep in your phone.
There’s no need to allow your publishing and posting to lapse if you can avoid it.
When there’s a risk that you may get knocked offline, prepare your blog and social media posts in advance and schedule them to be published automatically.
If the platform you’re using doesn’t have a scheduling feature, there are tools out there that can give you the capability, like Buffer and HootSuite.
Don’t assume your clients, readers, or followers know where you are. And even if they do, don’t assume that as they’re going about their lives they’ll make the connection that a natural disaster may be headed your way, which may affect them.
It’s your responsibility to bring this to their attention. And it’s in your best interest.
Most people will be understanding if they’re forewarned that you may be out of commission due to a disaster. But if your inbox just turns into a black hole and there’s no sign of you online, you can damage relationships with your clients and audience.
To avoid it, create a notice in advance saying normal communication or your regular publication schedule may be affected because you’re in the path of a storm.
Save a copy in your email with a mailing list of potential recipients. Save a copy in WordPress. And if WordPress isn’t linked to your social media accounts, save a pre-made post on your phone.
If there’s a threat of inclement weather, charge all your devices. Your phone, laptop tablet, camera batteries, portable chargers–anything that can be charged. Actually, it’s a good idea to make a checklist of all of your chargables so you don’t forget anything.
Also, if you’re in an area that has a history of losing power in storms (like mine), it may be wise to consider investing in a generator so you can operate at least partially.
If troubling weather is heading your way or you live in an area that’s commonly at risk, consider hiring a virtual assistant who is located in another area. You can get her to run your business or take over specific tasks if you’re affected by a disaster.
If you’ve never worked with a virtual assistant, don’t be deterred by how much you think it’s going to cost. Check it out. Support services are more affordable than a lot of people expect.
Know Your Insurance
Did you know that, according to the Insurance Information Institute, most home, renters and business insurance policies do not cover damage from earthquake, land tremors, landslide, mudflow or other earth movement?
And did you know that some homeowners insurance doesn’t cover losses related to home business? Those policies that do, may not offer enough to make you whole again.
A State Farm post says a typical homeowners policy will provide about $2,500 of coverage.
And if you rent your office or studio, don’t expect the landlord’s policy to cover your property. Usually, you have to have renter’s insurance.
If you don’t have any insurance, it’s really time to place getting it on your list of priorities.
If you’re already insured, make sure you understand exactly what’s covered. Make sure you have adequate coverage. And create an inventory of your office or studio so you file your claim quickly and accurately if it’s ever necessary.
We all know we should have a personal emergency fund, but you need a separate emergency fund for your business. Disaster recovery is one very good reason why.
You may have to pay a deductible for your insurance claim. You may need money to replace equipment or pay for work space while you’re waiting for your settlement. You may need money for fuel to power a generator.
It’s difficult to determine all of the expenses that could arise, but it’s smart to outline as many as possible so you can plan your savings accordingly.
Make A Plan
If a disaster does strike, then what? Hopefully, you won’t wait until afterward to figure that out.
A survey from Nationwide found that 75% of small business owners didn’t have disaster recovery plan in place. Don’t let that be you.
Research places where you can go and work if your normal spot is damaged or loses power. Research where can order replacement equipment and calculate how much the essentials will cost. Create a list of potential service providers that you may need.
Of course, there’s no way of knowing the extent of potential damage or how widespread it will be. You may have to rework your plan based on the circumstances. But it’s better to have something than nothing.
The longer that it takes you to get back up and running, the more money you stand to lose.