05 July 2011

In your planning, don't ignore business preparedness

Unless you're completely new to the topic, you're probably familiar with preparedness planning as a tool to become more self-reliant. On an individual and family level, you probably do (or should) have some supplies set aside, an emergency kit in place, and have discussed emergency plans with those in your household. In a similar manner, it's also important to consider your business preparedness.

Business preparedness may mean different things for everyone. Certainly, not everyone owns a business (although you may want to consider starting one in order to enhance your self-reliance). But, how many of you manage a business, or perhaps a department within one? From a CEO, to an entry-level employee, to someone who's self-employed: each one needs to consider and participate in business preparedness to the degree that they can.

Preparing a business for emergencies or disasters has some areas in common with family preparedness. For example, a company should: stock emergency supplies; address medical emergencies; and have an emergency plan to address when employees should shelter in place or leave the premises. Areas that are also similar, but more complex, include business continuity planning and insurance coverage.

Certainly, company size plays a bit role in the type and complexity of the preparedness planning that's appropriate for your business. The self-employed writer's planning may just be an extension of his/her family preparedness. A larger business with a separate facilities will require far more planning, of course.

A good resource for what to consider for your business preparedness, and information on how to implement it, can be found at Ready Business, which is a subsection of the Government's Ready.gov website.

So, what if you don't own a business, or even manage a portion of one? There are still things you can do.

First, you can approach those that are responsible for business preparedness. A good place to start is with your Human Resources department. Ideally, they should be able to point you right to the existing plans and resources, or at least refer you to the right department in a larger company.

If your company doesn't have any plans in place, or the plans are sketchy or seem inadequate, you can point the appropriate people to the Ready Business site. Maybe you can volunteer to help, or request to be assigned a role in developing the business preparedness plans? Hopefully, the right people will see the light and preparations will be made.

But, what if you work for a firm where there are no emergency plan in place and the company will not work toward creating one? Even in that (hopefully unlikely) event, you can still work on your own preparedness. After all, you're likely spending over a third of your day on the job, so you can make your own contingency plans. You can even keep some basic supplies in your desk and/or carry them with you in a briefcase or backpack.

Do you know your business' emergency preparedness plans? Have they ever been used? If so, what lessons were learned, or what tips do you have?

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