Tip Number 3 was: Look after your people and tell them what’s happening. As with all disasters, there will come a time when the disaster will pass, and things will return to near normal.
You have the opportunity at the moment to think about the future and to think about what you can do to be better prepared next time. Because there will be a next time - in the Pacific extreme weather-related events, and other crises, are part of the business environment yet often planning does not take these into consideration. Also, business disasters are not only the well-publicised cyclones or tsunamis or earthquakes – fire destroys many businesses, health issues close many other, localised events can impact negatively on local businesses.
All business owners should be aiming to have resilient organisations. Resilience is not just about getting through crises – truly resilient organisations do what they can to prevent potential crises emerging and they have the ability to turn crises into a source of strategic opportunity.
What is a business resilience action plan?
The business resilience action plan records what you will do BEFORE there is a disaster, preferably as soon as possible, to make sure your business is more resilient, prevents disasters where possible, and is as prepared as possible to deal with a disaster if it happens. Think about these areas and make notes:
Your priority products and / or services
Make a list of your products and / or services. Which of these are priorities to maintain existing contracts and customer relationships, including within your local community, and also provide to new customers? Keep the list focused on essentials. What products and/or services could you stop providing, even for a short time?
Priority tasks and key people
List the tasks that will be essential if you are to deliver the priority products and/ or services and identify the people capable of taking responsibility for these tasks.
List the equipment that is essential to delivering your key products and/or services and the options available if this equipment is unavailable. List the actions that you will take in the next 3 months to make your business more self-reliant in equipment in the event of a disaster
Priority stock and resources and key suppliers
Make a list of the stock and resources that are essential to delivering your priority products and/ or services, suppliers, alternative supply options and alternative resources. List the actions that you will take in the next 3 months, to make your business more self-reliant in priority stock and resources in the event of a disaster
Make a list of your priority customers. List the actions that you will take in the next 3 months, to find out more about what government departments or NGOs might buy from you in the event of a disaster, and to make connections with those organisations.
In a disaster the property or properties you operate your business from may be destroyed, become unsafe or inaccessible. List all the possible options where you could relocate your business. Note any advantages and disadvantages associated with each option. List the actions that you will take in the next 3 months, to make your property less vulnerable to destruction or damage in the event of a disaster
Delegation of authority
List your essential business processes, who has authority for them now, and one or two people who you trust to have authority to run the business in your absence. List the actions you will take in the next 3 months, to train and prepare someone to be able to take over from you in the event of a disaster. You should seek advice from a lawyer about how to give someone legal powers to act for you
Priority business records and systems
Write down your methods for backing up your business records and vital information. List the actions you will take in the next 3 months, to put your business records and key information in good order, protect them from destruction or damage in the event of a disaster, and be available remotely
Critical communications channels
Identify your usual communications channels, potential problems and alternatives. List the actions you will take in the next 3 months, to have the best chance of having working communication channels in the event of a disaster
Information, advice and assistance
Make sure you know how to contact the organisations that will be most useful to you in the event of a disaster – e.g. NDMO, Chambers of Commerce, NGOs, industry and sector groups. List the actions you will take in the next 3 months, to check on local disaster preparation and response plans, and find out more about which organisations can help you in the event of a disaster. For information about insurance options, contact your industry organisation or local chamber of commerce.
List the businesses around you that you could help, and that could help you, in the event of a disaster. List the actions you will take in the next 3 months, to work with other businesses around you, to make plans to help each other in the event of a disaster
Immediate response – disaster response checklist
Can you say Yes to each of the statements below? If not, decide what actions you need to take to be able to say Yes to every statement.
Keep all the contact details of critical people in more than one accessible location. Keep the information up to date. You need contact information for employees and their families, emergency services, other local businesses you will work with, bank and insurance company, priority customers, key suppliers, owners of alternative properties and utility services.
We are encouraging all business owners to get the advice they need to take action to survive, and so we are pleased to be able to offer businesses survival advice free of charge through Business Link Pacific, a New Zealand funded programme to help businesses affected by the economic situation created by the virus crisis and TC Harold. Contact me for further details. Also find information on your local Chamber of Commerce and Industry or Business Association website.
Stay safe and take care. Coming next – tip 5 – be prepared to do things differently.
Founding partner at Breadfruit Consulting.