Recovering your personal property after a natural disaster is undoubtedly challenging. Of course, the process involves more than purchasing more than impact windows and doors for weather protection. However, this becomes exhausting and frustrating if you also have a small business to rebuild. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, more than 40% of small businesses don’t resume operations after a natural disaster due to various challenges.
Without proper financial planning, loss of vital business documents, and challenges in meeting employee demands, rebuilding your business after a natural disaster becomes impossible. That said, below is a guide to help you rebuild your business after a natural disaster.
Communicate With Your Employees And Customers
Business owners should update their employees and customers about the current occurrences as soon as possible. While identifying priority areas of your business to salvage after a disaster might be challenging, it is crucial to communicate transparently with new and existing customers.
Fortunately, this had been made easy by the current digital technology. Therefore, it is best to begin by updating your website and social media platforms about your business situation. Patience, support, and empathy from your customers will go a long way in helping you rebuild your business. You can use text messaging platforms, such as WhatsApp and Telegram, to update your employees, vendors, and partners.
Contact Your Insurance Provider
The second step in rebuilding your business is getting in touch with your local insurance broker or agent. Once you have ensured that all your employees are safe, survey the extent of damage caused by the disaster and call your insurer to file a claim. If you live in a disaster-prone area, your policy should include coverage for all the major disasters.
The insurance company should send someone to assess and document the damage for follow-up. Unfortunately, vandalism and break-ins may occur after a disaster. Therefore, it is important to have your inventory checklist with you during evaluation. Your insurance company will process your claim and assign restoration experts to help repair or replace items damaged by the disaster.
Planning ahead is an important step for businesses recovering from the effects of a natural disaster. Besides implementing a business continuity plan, some measures can help you recover and rebuild your business after the disaster. According to the U.S Chamber of Commerce, small businesses should cultivate mutually beneficial partnerships with local communities, other businesses, and local government authorities. Developing these relationships will make it easy for business owners to reach out in times of need.
For instance, if your business wasn’t insured or doesn’t receive funding from FEMA, below are some financing options you should consider;
• Your Current Lender Or Bank – you should inform your primary bank about the emergency situation and financial support that you need. Most banks will formulate a plan to waive or defer fees for late payments, giving you time to rebuild your business without financial burden. They can even extend your credit line or provide more resources.
• Small Business Administration – businesses located in disaster-prone areas are eligible for low-interest loans from small business administration. SBA offers two categories of loans. The first is a 4% interest loan to cater to physical damage, and the second covers the operating expenses of small businesses struggling after a disaster.
• State Loans – state government can also offer emergency loans to businesses affected by natural disasters.
• Business Credit – if your business doesn’t meet the criteria for disaster loans or you aren’t sure of the amount required to recover, business credit cards are a good option to consider. With a business line of credit, you can borrow a specific amount and pay interest for the money accessed only.
Be Compassionate With Your Employees
Most business owners focus on getting their business up and running, ignoring or forgetting the plight of their employees. While you may want to resume business operations as soon as possible, remember that your employees were also affected and most likely torn between work and personal situations, especially if their homes were affected. Therefore, you should be flexible and allow your employees to resume when settled. You can also encourage them to work remotely.
Evaluate Your Business Model
As you recover from the disaster, you should re-evaluate your business model and adjust it to suit the prevailing situation. For instance, you should find ways of shifting your operating model to increase sales and revenue. This is a good time to assess and explore various marketing channels, such as online, business email marketing, inbound leads, social marketing, and offline strategies. Small changes in your business model can go a long way in ensuring that you achieve your goals and recover from reduced sales.
Natural disasters, such as floods, fires, and hurricanes, can strike at any time. While they may be out of your control, preparing for them and planning ahead can help your business recover sooner.