If you pay much attention at all to the news, you probably heard about the recent earthquakes in California. I live about 100 miles from where they struck, so we had a little mild shaking, no damage or anything. But it reminded me about how important it is to get your home business ready for a natural disaster.
When I talk about getting ready for a natural disaster, I’m not talking about prepping for the end of society. If that happens, your home business probably won’t matter much anyhow.
Instead, I’m talking about things like earthquakes, floods, fire, tornados, and hurricanes. Things that you know about how likely they are to strike in your area.
Which Natural Disasters Are Likely In Your Area?
The range of probable natural disasters in a given area varies quite a bit. I’m not at all far from the San Andreas Fault, so naturally earthquakes are a consideration for me. Tornados and hurricanes, not so much. Flooding can happen in my town, but I’m in the upper area with good drainage all around, so it’s not likely to be a problem.
Fire, of course, can strike anyone, anywhere.
Knowing what you’re planning for can help you make the right plans. Earthquakes, for example, strike without warning, while you may have several days’ warning of a hurricane. The things you need to do to prepare are slightly different for each.
The SBA has a list of preparations for emergencies that businesses can make. While their focus is more on small businesses in general, many of their tips can help your home business. They even offer specific advice for different kinds of emergencies.
Do You Have The Right Insurance Coverage?
Talk to your insurance agent to be sure that you have the right insurance coverage for your home and your business. Flood and earthquake insurance, for example, are usually not a part of the standard coverage. In some places it’s difficult to get fire insurance because the risk of wildfire is too high.
Insurance is sometimes a balance between what you know you should have and what you can realistically afford. It can be tough to pay for, especially when you know there’s a chance you’ll never need it.
But can you afford to take that chance?
Which Parts Of Your Home Business Are Most Important To Save In A Natural Disaster?
Deciding which parts of your home business you would save in a natural disaster can be tough. They should be balanced by the more personal things you’d want to save. Any home business plan for natural disasters, after all, must consider the other people and possessions in your home.
So before you start planning what to save from your home business, make plans for what to save from your home. Make an evacuation plan with your family. Talk about how to handle different kinds of emergencies. Decide which items are most important to grab on the way out if the emergency permits. Know where you’re going to go once everyone is out.
Once your family is prepared, you can start taking your home business into consideration.
Assume the worst as you plan. Most disasters won’t be that bad, but you won’t know in advance. That’s why you should start from “no time to grab anything, just run” and go from there.
From there, you can decide what you will grab if there is time. Figure out your priorities ahead of time.
If you sell physical products, these may be a priority for you to save in a disaster. Just how much of a priority may depend in part on how good your business insurance is. If the insurance will sufficiently handle the financial blow of losing your physical product inventory, there’s not much to worry about, even though the loss will still be painful.
On the other hand, if your insurance won’t cover them sufficiently, you may feel much more need to protect the products you sell. That’s your livelihood, after all!
Even so, remember that your first priority is people, then pets, and then decide which things can be saved. Things can always be replaced or at least remembered. If you don’t have enough insurance, it will be harder to replace your things, but it’s better to have the people you care about.
Your Home Business Computer Files
Your home business computer files is very important to protect in case of a natural disaster, but it’s also one of the easiest things to do. Simply have everything backed up to the cloud. This goes for personal data too.
I have all my photos, for example, backup automatically. This way I’ll have a copy no matter what happens. I only need to be able to log into the account to retrieve them.
Google Photos gives you unlimited free storage for photos so long as individual photos are no more than 16 megapixels, and videos are at no higher than 1080p resolution. You can pay if you want to store at higher resolutions, but these levels are fine for most purposes.
You can store other files on Google Drive, which gives you up to 15 gigs free. However, this includes the space your Gmail takes as well as any photos or videos that are above the resolutions allowed in free storage. It’s also easy to buy more space if you need to.
And of course, there are plenty of other cloud storage options such as IDrive, MicrosoftOneDrive, and Dropbox.
If your data is backed up offsite automatically, you won’t need to consider it during a disaster. It’s already safe. Restoring it may be a pain, but that’s all it will be.
The equipment you use to run your home business is no doubt very important to you. The things you put in your nice, comfy home office are important to your success. That’s how you’ll get things going again once you’re able. But it can be hard to decide what matters most in an emergency.
In general, you want to consider what will be easier to replace versus more difficult to replace. Replacing a computer is a pain, but if all your data is backed up, you may actually lose very little if your computer is ruined in a disaster. Other equipment may be more difficult to replace, depending on what you use.
Take an inventory of your equipment occasionally. I do this by taking pictures and video. This then gets uploaded along with all my other photos. Having visual proof of your possessions may help with insurance claims. Keep receipts if you can as well.
No matter how much we try to get rid of paperwork, some of it keeps hanging around. Worst of all, you really need some of it.
Any paperwork you want to protect from a natural disaster can be stored in a fireproof safe. These will help with most disasters.
If you want a more grab and go solution, a three ring binder with your important papers in plastic sleeves is easy to grab in an emergency. A waterproof bag is another option.
The good thing about most paperwork is that it can often be replaced. It may be tedious and cost money and/or time, but it can be done. You can also store your most important papers in a safe deposit box.
Consider Disasters Where Your Website Is Hosted
You should also take into consideration the disasters which may happen where your website is hosted. Your hosting company should have a disaster plan of their own, of course, but it never hurts to consider the data that makes up your website.
Backup your website regularly. Not only does this help if your host has a problem, it helps if your site is hacked. Hacking is an all too common problem for websites. A time may come when you need a clean copy of your data.
Don’t keep every backup copy of your site ever. Go through every here and there and delete older ones. You only need one good copy, but keeping three or so backups is a help if you discover that you didn’t know about a problem for a time that makes newer copies less reliable than older ones.
Making Your Home Business Ready For A Natural Disaster Is An Ongoing Process
Being prepared for a natural disaster isn’t a “once and done” kind of thing. You need to review your preparedness regularly. Otherwise, your home business won’t be as ready for a natural disaster as you thought.
Review your priorities. Something that was important when you made your original disaster plans may be less so now, and vice versa.
Sometimes a part of your plan will fail. Your data backups, for example, may not work out the way you thought they would. Paperwork goes out of date. Your physical inventory gets bigger or smaller.
Make the time to get your home business ready for a natural disaster before one happens to you, and keep your plans current. Rushing around trying to decide what to take in an emergency wastes a lot of time, and important things will be missed. Plan ahead, and you have a better chance of getting at least some of the things that matter out safely.