Four in ten businesses don’t reopen after a disaster according to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Another 25% fail the following year. And the failure rate by the end of the second year after disaster strikes is greater than 90%. The question we have to ask ourselves as solopreneurs is: Are we adequately prepared?
This question has been on my mind quite a bit lately as disasters seem to always be not too far away, no matter where I live. When I was in Michigan, I was knocked offline repeatedly due to winter storms taking out the power lines. In California, earthquakes and wildfires threatened my ability to keep a consistent work schedule.
Texas didn’t offer an reprieve thanks to its hailstorms and tornados. Now, in Florida, tropical storms and hurricanes are the biggest threats. Each location reminds me that, if I want my small business to survive, I must be prepared. What does this preparation look like for those of us who are solopreneurs?
Know Your Threats
The first step to protecting your one-person business is to know your threats. Take a minute and write down the natural disasters most likely to strike wherever you are. Think about:
- Winter storms
- High winds
- Tropical storms
If you’re unsure what threats are most prevalent in your area, such as if you just moved like I have, go back through the news in that location over the past few years. This will give you a good idea of the natural disasters you will likely face. You could also contact the local emergency management department and ask them.
Develop a Plan
Once you have an idea of the natural disasters that are the biggest threats to your small business, the next step is to develop a plan. This plan should include the things you can do to better protect your business against the threat, as well as what actions you will take should a disaster actually occur.
Putting actions in place to better protect your business prevents you from being caught totally off guard. For example, as I write this, tropical storm Elsa is about to make landfall not too far from where I live. With expected wind gusts in the 50-70 mph range, losing power is a good possibility.
That’s why my disaster plan involves ensuring that my laptop battery remains fully charged, enabling me to continue writing. It also includes keeping my cellphone charged so I always have a mobile hotspot and charging my spare batteries to continue to supply energy should the power stay out for some time. Having all of this in place beforehand ensures that I am prepared for and can continue working through this event.
Developing a plan for after an event or disaster is important too, because it increases your chances of surviving with minimal impact. As a writer, this plan includes notifying my clients if I may have trouble hitting deadlines and creating a schedule that allows me to take care of my business post-disaster, as well looking after my home.
Utilize Available Resources
Although we are used to doing everything (or almost everything) on our own as solopreneurs, the nice thing is that we don’t have to when it comes to natural disaster preparedness and response. There are numerous resources available that can help us along the way.
One to consider is the Preparedness Checklists offered by the Office of Disaster Assistance. This office provides preparation checklists for earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, and winter weather.
Ready.gov is another. This resource offers toolkits for a variety of natural disasters, also providing safety and preparedness messages that you can share on your social media pages to keep your customers, clients, and followers informed.
While I hope that you never need this information, I also want you to be prepared as possible so that you are the one in ten businesses surviving two years post-disaster. You’ve worked way too hard to have Mother Nature take your one-person business out. With the right preparations, she won’t.