Thursday, November 19, 2015

Planning for disasters

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     to help you better manage your small business

     Disasters happen. Fires, floods, computer glitches, power outages and burglaries can strike at any time. Key employees can have accidents and be laid up recuperating for months. 

     Owners of small businesses provide their own back-up. Think about the things that can go wrong, and have a plan to get you through the mess. Don't wait until the disaster happens.

     Example: Jim runs a small computing firm with three employees. The main component of his business is to continually monitor the operating systems of his client larger firms, assuring them uninterrupted and problem-free operation. Jim is set up to electronically repair computer problems remotely. A key employee, however, broke her back and would suddenly be absent for weeks. Jim had to scramble to cover the work the employee had been handling. He had to substitute himself in the technical aspects the employee normally handled. It was a valuable lesson. When the employee returned to work, Jim began paying attention to cross-training all his employees.

     Example: Mary is an expert in massage with her own studio. Over several years, Mary built up her client base and went looking for bigger space. She was careful not to consider ground-floor space because the river sometimes flooded the Main Street. She didn't want stairs because some of her clients could not manage stairs. She found space accessible by a ramp in a building with offices that were well above ground level. Her careful planning paid off--when the river flooded, she was high and dry. 

     Example: Ella runs a small graphic arts firm. The business was going well when suddenly the landlord informed her that she had 60 days to vacate the space. The lease gave the landlord that option. It also provided that the landlord would buy out the remaining months of the lease--a clause Ella had insisted on when she signed the original lease. Since there were two years remaining in the lease, Ella received a sizable cash payment from the landlord. She used the money to move, buy new equipment, and add an employee. The disruption in on-going work was significant, but Ella turned disaster into positive growth.

     Think through your own situation. Have a plan in place--at least in your head--to deal with that next disaster that might hit your business.

     Anything can happen. Big companies can ride out disasters--they have deep pockets. But your small business depends on you.   

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