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Small Business Disaster Preparedness in the 21st Century


Would you know what to do if your business was affected by a natural disaster tomorrow? Do you have the communications channels and plan in place to take action, or would you simply panic and stop the presses? Many small business owners can’t afford to be closed for even one day. Social media is not only a marketing tool, but it can be a lifeline in today’s modern society.
Recent natural disasters have taught us many things about how interwoven technology is in our 21st century world. Hurricane Sandy was the first widespread natural disaster in U.S. history that showed us how our social networks can help us and our businesses survive and thrive in the wake of a crisis.
Examples abound both during and after Hurricane Sandy about people and businesses reaching out on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook to get help and offer relief. Nonprofits like Invisible People used Twitter to reach out to homeless shelters and gather its resources to help obtain generators and food for the less fortunate. An animal shelter that posted about structural damage to its facilities on Facebook got 30 volunteers to come out and repair the damage. Over a dozen restaurants in one city banded together to provide Sunday night dinner for its community and used Facebook to spread the word.
Making a plan now for your procedure during a crisis or emergency situation can mean the difference between survival and greater loss. Obviously, safety and family come first for both you and your employees. Once everyone is secure, have a plan for working off-site, accessing the Internet and staying abreast of the latest information. Many federal, state and local agencies have social media accounts that will be updated frequently to help you stay informed. If you’ve built out a couple of social media channels for marketing purposes, you can also keep your customers updated and let them know when you are operational and available for support. Note, however, immediately after a natural disaster is not the time for promotional messages, but it can be an effective way to bridge your company and your community during difficult times. So what are you waiting for? Go make your plan!