Disasters aren’t necessarily always tornadoes or hurricanes, although it is important to prepare for those too.
In the business world anything that poses the risk to have disastrous or fatal consequences on your business’ infrastructure, processes and serviceability.
There are some that can and certainly should be prevented and others that you can only prepare and brace yourself for.
Remember that in any event the safety and well-being of your staff should be at the very top of your list.
With that said, here are the disasters that can plague small business into extinction.
Cash Flow Problems
The downfall of many potentially great small businesses is the inability to create a consistent cash flow.
Businesses need money to survive and thrive. (Otherwise, what is the point, right?)
Contrary to popular belief, cash flow problems are not always caused by a small piece of the market pie.
A well-established business, which has a good annual turnaround, can also run into cash flow problems.
This can be caused by many things
• High overheads (when your business operational costs are too high) Audit and trim costs within reason.
• Slow-paying clients – consider invoice factoring.
• Insufficient gross margins – when you sell your product/ service for such a low amount (because of a highly competitive industry) Audit your products/ service to determine the real cost.
• Surplus inventory – when you have too many products manufactured that are now just taking up shelf space and tying up your cash flow. Do a proper monthly sales forecast and work from that going forward.
This can include natural disasters like hurricanes, floods, fires etc. or accidents sprung from a human error such as chemical spills, pollution or blackouts.
Here preparation, contingency, and continuity are of vital importance as it could very well cost you your life or your business’ future (or both) if you don’t have these plans in place.
Above and beyond your own staff and your business, if your business is resilient and can manage a respectable level of serviceability throughout natural disasters it could help countless others.
Think of something as simple as a food truck, once a disaster warning is issued and you manage to evade the initial onslaught, you could help to feed people that have lost everything.
Preparedness is how you protect your business and its assets and here’s how to go about it
Assess potential threats.
• Where possible these kinds of assessments should ideally take place before you decide on a building and an area.
• What kind of natural disasters are common in the area?
• How much rain does the area get?
• Is the building and its supporting infrastructure capable of handle the type of weather without damages to your business?
• Are there lots of blackouts in the area?
• Are you near a freeway or other heavy pollutants?
• Freeways and airports also add a noise factor as well as potentially life-threatening risks like car-wrecks, terrorism etc.
• Which assets, data, programs, and processes are of vital importance to your business serviceability?
• How will the likely disasters affect your people and your business and for how long?
• Can you recover your data and programs fast?
These are some of the things you need to take into account when compiling an emergency and a disaster mitigation plan.
Formulate an Emergency and Disaster Mitigation Plan
It’s important to learn how to design a proper Emergency Plan that meets regulations.
It will include an actual evacuation plan along with marked emergency exits and a dedicated evacuation plan.
A disaster mitigation plan should also entail a detailed plan for business continuity, data recovery and designated personnel to assess business serviceability in the event of a disaster.
When the dust settles, it’s imperative to get back to full functionality as soon as possible, because downtime in itself is a massive threat which many small businesses cannot recover from.
If you think your business is too small or insignificant to be of value to cybercriminals, think again.
The automation and simplification of processes by means of software, applications and the internet is rapidly increasing the threat of Cyber Attacks to any type of business.
And the truth is, Cyber Attacks may be the worst of all of these.
Because if criminals were to access say, sensitive security information, what’s to stop them from disabling your system, stealing all your money and covering their tracks with a fire?
It’s a bit of a leap, of course, but these things really do happen.
Any type of information can be useful to someone who knows how to twist it to their own advantage so it’s best not to give them the chance if you can help it.
Here are some of the most common types of Cyber Attacks to look out for:
• Ransomware – this is essentially malicious software that makes its way into your systems by tricking someone into accessing it, like in an email, and once you open it the virus/ software can do what it’s meant to do.
• Hacking – gaining access to your system and files by basically ‘breaking in’ without physically gaining access to your premises or computers at all.
• Phishing – a way to get access to information or mostly harassing someone for a payment (that isn’t legitimate) by posing as a trustworthy contact.
Defenses against cyber attacks:
• Backups – your system and files need to be constantly duplicated and protected. Have we mentioned how important fast data recovery is?
• Anti-malware protection – protects against dodgy emails, ransomware, and viruses.
• Firewalls, security procedures and constant improvement thereof.
• Staff awareness – IT should be continually finding new ways to deal with threats and sharing those in a meeting monthly.
• Software updates – Software that is not properly up to date will become vulnerable to cyber threats.