What the “L” to do During the Next Disaster

Trouble on the horizon? What to do to keep your business running in the aftermath of a disaster.In the past month we’ve watched American communities endure crippling storms, flooding, tornados, earthquakes and wildfires. And, of course, we took note of the man-made disasters of September 11, 2001.

Most large organizations have some type of business continuation plan. Smaller businesses are a different story. According to the website Small Business CEO, “62 percent of surveyed small businesses do not have an emergency plan in place.”

You do have a plan? If not, check out preparedness web sites such as www.ready.gov.

Here are a few basic steps a business can take to ensure it can continue its business, and communicate effectively, in the aftermath of a critical event.

1. Leadership: Get started by creating a core team, including the CEO, of five to seven persons empowered to make rapid decisions and execute a plan. The team also should include legal counsel. And, do not forget the importance of employee communications

2. Location: Does everyone know where to meet if the office is off-limits? Is there an aternative location where business, even on a limited basis, can be conducted? Or can you create a virtual office?

3. Logistics: Assuming your computer network servers and electrical power are functioning, can you efficiently communicate with internal and external audiences? If your ability to call or email is limited, make sure you have a priority list determining who gets contacted first as communications come back on line.

4. Lists: Your important lists no doubt live on your computer systems. Are there hard-copy backups and are they stored somewhere other than the office?

5. Lasting impressions: How does your organization want to be remembered as it endures and emerges from a disaster? How do you put company values into action? Are there special ways your organization can help customers and the community? Shape your deeds and communications to help the public better know the character and quality of your business.

So, consider these five “L’s” as you think about — ­in advance ­— what needs to be done when bad stuff happens.