This time last year, we were desperately searching for a temporary home after dealing with Hurricane Sandy that slammed into the Northeastern United States.
She was the deadliest and most destructive hurricane of 2012 and the second costliest hurricane in U.S. history. We were thankful to have a home to return too, but then we had to clean up and move out for 4 months while our entire first floor was ripped out and replaced. If that isn’t a wake up call to have a good emergency preparedness plan in place for your business, I don’t know what is. And that is the point! You never know when an emergency will arise, but having a plan in place beforehand can keep your business and sanity in tact while you deal with the situation at hand.
Here are the 3 Most Important Steps in an Emergency Preparedness Plan:
- Pick a Trustworthy Emergency Contact and/or team. Depending on the size and scope of the work you do, you want to choose someone you really trust to take over the administrative side of your business. Someone who can contact your clients, possibly answer emails, and communicate efficiently and effectively on your behalf to keep things running. You may even want to choose a second person who has the skills similar to yours so they can keep projects and work moving. In some cases these two people may be the same person or if your business is specialized or large you may need them to be separate people or even have another person involved. I stress the importance of trustworthy because you need to select the individual or team that won’t sabotage or kidnap your business while you are dealing with an emergency. Careful vetting is important, so take care and time when selecting your emergency plan individual or team.
- Keep Impeccable Records. If you are like me, you probably have a habit of keeping things in your head. At the very least, I encourage you to keep a current list of all clients with their contact information. If there are other important associates you do business with, put them on the list too. Vendors, freelancers and/or various team members should be listed if you coordinate jobs or parts of your business with them weekly. Also collect any passwords that your emergency contact will need to help your business through the tough time. This might include passwords to your email, your time tracking/invoicing software, your computer or laptops if they’ll need those, or any other tools that require a password to use. A frequently asked question sheet may be helpful for your emergency contact to answer common questions from clients. Once you have all the tools together needed for your emergency contact, make sure you review everything with them. Show them where to locate everything and what process to follow. If you have a back up storage device for jobs or keep things on the cloud, make sure you get those items/passwords to them if appropriate.
- Keep Your Emergency Preparedness Plan Up to Date. You’ve gone through the painstaking trouble of getting everything together, so now make sure it stays that way. Make sure you keep these items updated, enter a time on your calendar every month to review everything so all tools and information stay current. And if your business changes, alter your plan so it fills any emergency need you could possibly foresee. If you are feeling overwhelmed right now, break the tasks into smaller bite sized tasks. Start simple and if all you do is pick a trustworthy emergency plan advocate at least some of the repetitive parts of your business can continue even if you are dealing with an inconvenient situation. Some freelancers even work ahead on projects to pad their time so if an emergency arises, time is on their side to get back on track. A wise woman once shared with me that proper preparedness prevents poor performance and because of past experience, I’ve taken that mantra to heart. Since an emergency can arise at any second, having a well-prepared plan will provide a contingency plan for your business to survive if something catastrophic happens.
I’d like to hear from you. Did I miss anything? What kind of Emergency Preparedness Plan do you have in place?