Building resiliency into your brokerage: do you have a plan for the inevitable?
Ask most small business owners if they think planning for emergencies is important, and they’ll say “yes.” Ask them if they have an emergency plan, and they’ll say “no.” Andy Wisheart, business development manager at EmePoint, says there are three reasons he frequently comes across:
Because they are strapped for resources
Larger organisations have more resources to prepare for and respond to an emergency. Small businesses, on the other hand, are more concerned about making a profit and don’t have the time or money to address “what if” scenarios.
Because the government will step in
Under-resourced business owners may also think that the government will step in with support during a widespread disaster, when in fact government will be more focussed on restoring critical infrastructure and services. Small businesses are likely to be even less of a priority in a national disaster.
Because they think they can’t
When a business owner thinks of planning for a disaster, they think of planning for an act of God that is out of their control. Many business owners even treat disasters as a cost of doing business, and absolve themselves of the consequences.
So what can small businesses do? “If business owners knew how to identify their business risks,” says Wisheart, “most could create an emergency plan in just a day. That’s our goal with EmePoint.” He encourages businesses that are lacking the time, money and expertise of emergency planning to focus on just two things:
Create a basic plan
The fewer the resources a business has pre-disaster, the more important it is to leverage those resources wisely post-disaster. “Regardless of an organisation’s size or resources, having even a basic emergency plan in place increases a business’ chance of surviving and recovering quickly from a disaster,” says Wisheart.
Plan for the business disruption instead of the disaster
Trying to plan for an act of God or “anything and everything” seems overwhelming – so don’t. List the disruptions that will impact your business the most – loss of key personnel, power, data, inventory, etc. – and find solutions to those disruptions instead of focussing on their causes. “There’s nothing you can do to prevent an earthquake from happening,” says Wisheart. “But every business can understand and deal with a loss of power.”
Natural disasters are often unavoidable but can be treated as a foreseeable risk. Getting started is the hardest part, but in the event of a disaster, even one day’s investment in an emergency plan becomes a competitive advantage over businesses that don’t.
EmePoint is the world’s first online emergency planning tool for small businesses, developed by Kiwi company Healthpoint.