Viewpoint: Don’t get caught in the rain • Northwest Indiana Business Magazine

Viewpoint: Don’t get caught in the rain

Protect your small business with a disaster preparedness plan

The SBA says creating a disaster preparedness plan is a good way to protect your business. (Provided by the SBA)

As we dive into spring, traditional weather threats reign supreme, threatening damage and destruction to our lives and communities. And as we learned in recent years, non-traditional threats like cyber security and pandemics can spell disaster too.

The U.S. Small Business Administration is here to help. During COVID-19, the SBA provided $8.6 billion to struggling Indiana small businesses. On top of that, in 2022 SBA disaster assistance programs approved $4.3 million in low-interest disaster loans to help businesses and homeowners recover from declared disasters caused by the destructive tornadoes, floods, wind and more that whipped through Indiana. 

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency 40% of small businesses never reopen after a disaster and 25% of those that do will fail within a year. You can protect yourself by developing a disaster preparedness plan. Here are tips to get you started:

  1. Create a plan, write it down and test it. Your disaster plan should look a lot like your regular business plan and include sections covering operations, finances and communications. Need help? Contact an SBA resource partner for advice. 
  2. Check your insurance. Not all  policies cover every type of disaster. Know what your business insurance protects — and expand your coverage if necessary.
  3. Know your risks. What are the most serious threats and impacts to your business? Review your county’s hazard analysis and mitigation plans — they provide clues to what has happened in the past so you can be prepared for the future.
  4. Know your operations. Identify business functions and processes. Write them down then document procedures for workarounds and/or manual processes. Identify who can do what in cases of emergency and develop a training plan to cross train your team.
  5. Know your employees. Your employees are your No. 1 asset. Their safety is paramount. Make sure you can keep in touch with them no matter what. Create a contact tree and keep it up to date. Designate a phone number and/or intranet site where employees can get status updates and leave messages. 
  6. Know your equipment. What do you have, where is it located and can it be moved to a safe place? If not, where can you outsource production? Take pictures. Inventory all equipment. Review every six months. Keep hard copies of all equipment invoices, sales receipts, maintenance records, warranties and user manuals. Bundle these with those pictures  and keep them in a safe, dry place you can access any time.
  7. Know your key customers, contacts, suppliers and vendors. Like your employees, these folks are vital to continued operations. Know how to contact them in case of emergency and share contingency plans.
  8. Know your IT. Develop a severe weather plan to protect your equipment. Use the 3-2-1 backup rule. Save three copies of your data to two types of media and keep one backup at an offsite location. Create an inventory list of everything you would need to purchase or lease to perform critical business functions. Know who to contact and where to get it during a crisis.
  9. Know your finances. Replenish or re-start your emergency reserve fund and build with the goal of being able to cover costs for at least one year. Consider getting a business credit card or establishing a line of credit. Create a “must-be-paid list” of vendors who won’t be lenient when their bill is due. Review insurance to make sure it will adequately cover costs and production processes. 
  10. When disaster strikes, know where to go for help. Become engaged with your community. Get to know your county’s emergency management team, local elected officials, police and fire. Become involved with your local chamber and other small business and/or community organizations. 

Above all, reach out to the SBA and our partners for help.  We’re in this together, so let us help you keep your small business growing strong.


  • Stacey Poynter

    Stacey Poynter is the district director for the U.S. Small Business Administration Indiana district. He is responsible for the delivery of all SBA programs and services throughout Indiana. Poynter joined the SBA in 2008.

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