Hate the rain, snow and ice? Sure it’s an inconvenience, but for small businesses the cost of winter weather can be devastating. Consider these statistics from Agility Recovery, a business continuity company who partners regularly with the SBA to offer business owners advice about preparing for disasters:
- Winter weather costs U.S. businesses $10 billion in combined economic and insured losses each year.
- 30% of small businesses close for 24 hours or more due to a disaster
- 6 in 10 businesses don’t have a formal disaster response
Disasters don’t have to be large scale to hurt small businesses either. A power outage from a blizzard or ice storm can impact operations for days. A burst pipe can cause thousands of dollars in damage. Or a flu outbreak can cut productivity and profits (the CDC says that nearly 111 million workdays and $16 billion is lost in earnings each year due to the flu).
Not only do these incidents impact your ability to conduct business, they can also create a cash flow problem. Now here’s another stat: 90% of business failures are caused by cash flow. Managed poorly, fierce weather may just close your business for good.
So what can you do? Be prepared and be ready to respond.
Things to consider as you plan for winter weather:
- Which areas of your business are most susceptible to winter hazards (walkways, pipes, roofs, HVAC, power supplies, communications, etc.)? Who is responsible for them?
- Ensure your premises are winterized.
- Ready your power supply.
- Check your insurance coverage to see what it protects you against.
- Protect and backup data. Ensure it can be easily accessed if you don’t have access to on-site systems (in the cloud, for example).
- Develop a plan of action for your staff and business (communications, supplies, evacuation plans, health and safety, telework capabilities).
This preparedness checklist from Agility Recovery gets a little more granular on the details, and is a good resource to have on hand. Ready.gov also offers resources on how to test, manage and improve your plan.
The flu hits every business, check out this influenza planning checklist from Flu.gov to help you and your employees prepare for the season and respond when it hits your business, plus more planning resources here.
After a Disaster, Get Help Paying Bills and More
If disaster strikes and you need financial assistance to repair or replace real estate, personal property, equipment and machinery, business inventory, etc., the government offers help in the form of SBA disaster loans. These are available to businesses located in a declared disaster area. Loans can also be used to protect business property against future disasters of the same type.
A loan may not always be necessary. If you’re struggling with cash flow, you can use an invoice financing service like Fundbox to advance payments on your outstanding invoices. This is particularly useful this time of year if clients are late paying you due to weather-related disruption and can help you tide over your cash flow until the operations return to normal.
Ready for more?
Apply for funding and find out if you qualify today