Prepare for the worst, hope for the best.
That’s a motto every business should follow. Unexpected tragedies can happen at any time, putting your business, your finances, and your future in jeopardy.
A quick browse over the daily news will reveal dozens of tragedies – from natural disasters to economic crises. It’s easy to read these things and feel disconnected from them. But no one is exempt from facing an unexpected hardship.
Oftentimes these things are beyond our control (e.g. natural disasters, wars and famine). In other instances, it’s hardships within the business itself (e.g. the loss of a major client or your best employee leaving for another opportunity).
As a business owner, it’s your responsibility to prepare for these difficult experiences.Here are some effective ways to prepare your business for the worst case scenario:
1. Protect Your Paperwork
Papers can easily be burned, torn, lost, or dissolved And computers can malfunction, break or completely crash. Having copies in both locations is the best safeguard against loss.
I’ve found it’s smart to also use a cloud-based service like Dropbox to keep all your documents safe and secure online. That way if you ever need to quickly evacuate your home or office, you won’t have to worry about leaving important documents behind.
2. Get Insurance for Technology
Computers, printers, phones, projectors and other forms of technology can cost a ton of money to replace. If you ever face a office fire or natural disaster, you don’t want to worry about spending thousands to replace your vital business equipment.
Invest in insurance that covers your devices. It’s often just a few dollars a month that can truly pay off if you ever encounter a worst case scenario.
3. Build a Backup Team
What happens when you can’t get to work for a week straight, even though there’s a huge deadline on your plate? Do you have anyone that can take over when the time comes?
If you haven’t worked with a contractor before, consider hiring someone on an occasional basis so you have a rapport built up with someone reliable in the case you ever need to hand off work in an emergency situation.
Bonus tip: Pick a contractor in different state than yours. That way if it’s a widespread scenario they will be able to take on your work while you deal with the hardship.
4. Prepare Your Clients
There aren’t many worst case scenarios that give you time to prepare. However, on the off chance you even get a few days notice (e.g. a devastating hurricane heading your way), make sure to let your clients know what’s going on.
Take an hour to craft well-written, personalized emails informing them that you will be affected and what that means for them.
If at all possible, don’t wait post-problem to address your absence and unavailability. Taking the time beforehand to correspond with them shows how much you care about their business.
5. Diversify Your Money
Setting up an emergency fund is a common financial tip. But have you thought about diversifying the location of your savings?
Scenarios that impact an entire area can cause a devastating impact to your savings as well. A local financial institution may be unable to dole out cash immediately after a tragedy. Securing money in multiple locations can help you access important funds in a pinch. You can consider keeping money with relatives in another State or using an online-based financial institution like Paypal.
6. Plan Your Return Transition
Once you’ve overcome the worst case scenario, you’ll need to transition back to your working environment. In the case of natural disasters, you might not have access to landlines or the internet for an extended amount of time.
Invest in portable phone chargers that run off batteries. A charged up cell phone is an important business access. With it, you can make calls, receive email and communicate with clients and contractors.
Before the disaster you should pinpoint a couple of locations where you can access wifi internet (possibly having to drive further away from your city to do that) in case you need to get online ASAP to access funds or important documents.
Are You Prepared?
While rare, unforeseeable worst case scenarios do happen and can leave devastating marks on your business. Taking the time now to plan for the worst will make all the difference to your future.
How are you preparing for the worst? Would love to hear any additional tips you may have in the comments below!