There is one thing that scientists, politicians, medical practitioners, and pundits of all stripes agree on regarding the COVID-19 crisis: It was that the world was not prepared for it. In what seemed like a blink of an eye, all our major institutions collapsed, and the crisis revealed the cracks in the world’s health care systems and economies.
If you are a business owner, then you must feel this reality to your core. The good news is that hindsight is 20/20, and if you were lucky enough to have your company survive the past year and a half, now is the time to put what you learned to practice and start preparing for whatever else the world has up its sleeve—from wars to natural disasters and yes, another pandemic. In a world of uncertainty, we need to always be one step ahead if we want to protect our business’s interests. Here are some ways your business can prepare for the unexpected moving forward.
Always anticipate the worst
When it comes to something bad happening, it’s never a question of if, but when. At any point in time, we can experience an earthquake, losing someone we love, the stock exchange collapsing, and even another coronavirus pandemic to happen. To be an astute entrepreneur is to anticipate bad things happening and be ready to pivot so that our business won’t take the worst possible hit. There’s a reason why schools need to do threat assessments—it’s because when kids are under their roof, the school is responsible for their health and safety. The same onus must fall on the shoulders of businessmen if they truly want to protect their interests no matter what disaster the world may bring.
It’s not about being anxious or paranoid; it’s about being realistic about the kinds of scenarios that can bring your business down brick by brick. Listing down all these worst-case scenarios and coming up with strategies to protect your business and your assets will help you be objective and level-headed should the worst happen.
Consider building an emergency response team
You can outsource this team or build one from existing employees, but one thing’s for sure: You need a team of people that can help you navigate whatever storm may come, also known as an emergency response team (ERT). From financial to PR disasters, to natural disasters like a flood or an earthquake, and even for having to deal with an active shooter—having a team that’s solely dedicated to creating strategies for escaping these scenarios will help you sleep better at night knowing that you have people working with you to ensure everyone’s safety. Here are some other responsibilities they can take on:
- Establish communications and create a master list of everyone’s contact information. They will be in charge of technology as well.
- Determine succession in the event of a community-wide disaster or if you, as a CEO or manager, becomes incapacitated.
- Assess and mitigate all types of risks.
Get your financial ducks in order
So many small businesses were not able to survive the pandemic because they were not financially prepared for it. If you want your business to survive the next disaster, you need to take financial steps to ensure you will be able to sustain your business while it’s being disrupted. Here are some things you can do:
- Have a contingency plan, like pivoting to remote work as soon as the situation calls for it. Bolster the E-commerce side of your business as well as the technological solutions needed to be able to run smoothly even if you can’t meet personally.
- Have a clear communication plan handy at all times. You should be able to communicate to your stakeholders, namely your employees, customers, and suppliers in the event of an unexpected disruption. It should clearly lay out your plans and strategies for surviving the interruption.
- Find ways to cut back on your operating expenditures. Have a deal in place with your landlord for rent postponement. List down your expenses so you can see where you can shave costs, at least for the short term. Remember that every penny counts.
- Get business interruption insurance. Another insurance coverage may be an added expense now, but it can help protect you, your business, and your employees against losses down the road.
It’s never too late to learn from our mistakes. Look at successful businesses and how they navigated the COVID-19 crisis, study their strategies, and employ them in your own business. The effort is always worth it. Good luck!