emergency preparedness contingency planWith Hurricane Matthew beating down our doorsteps here in South Florida, I thought I would take this time to talk about something critical. Something everyone and every business should have in place. That is emergency preparedness – a contingency plan.

Create a contingency plan to address the needs of the business in the event that something occurs outside of normal business operations. This includes events like a personal emergency, natural disaster (hurricane, earthquake, flood, fire, etc.), or even sabotage like a hacked website. These things are a possibility for every person and every business.

What would happen to your business if you fall ill and could not attend to your business for six months? How about a devastating weather emergency? In 2005, here in South Florida, we had Hurricane Wilma. We were without electricity for over a week. Luckily my family and I were able to evacuate the area to family in another state but if i had a business at the time and no power, how would I run my business? As a matter of fact, I was working a full time job in 2005. Some of my fellow employees were asked to take their computers and temporarily relocate to Orlando. That was the contingency plan in effect.

Your contingency plan will consist of several different scenarios. The plan for a weather disaster and relocation will be different than that of a website hacking. When developing your plan, you must think about all of the different scenarios that can potentially disrupt your business. I recommend building a list of these scenarios first.

When developing the actual plan for each scenario you must think about who, what, when and how these things will happen.

Who: Who will implement the plan? Who are participants in the plan?

What: What is the scenario or event disruption and how will it affect your business?

When: When will the plan be enacted?

How: How will the plan be implemented? This is the meat of the plan; what will happen in this scenario.

Once the plan is fully documented, make sure more than one person is aware of the plans and document. Store it somewhere safe; somewhere it will always be accessible.

My last tip is to make sure you review your plan at a minimum, yearly. Things change and you want to keep the plan up to date.

Click here to go to the Small Business Administration website to read further information about emergency preparedness. It contains some great information, PDF’s and checklists. Here is a link to the SBA for information about Cybersecurity plans as well.