Small Business No Brainer?
“News Item–If you own or work for a small business the odds of it surviving a major earthquake or weather event are 50/50 at best.”
Around our household we have an item that we brand as “the ecology.” It’s actually a “sanitized” word for the sometimes-yukky vegetable garbage destined for the compost pile.
In the world of business, similar sanitizing goes on around the mess that can occur after a major disaster.
The first sanitized term that comes to mind is “Business Continuity.” “Business Continuation” runs a close second. By and large, these expressions are unfamiliar to employees and may be only vaguely understood by owners. (“Something to do with insurance?”)
When a catastrophe can result from something as simple as a backhoe cutting communications lines, it makes no sense to ignore emergency preparedness!
“Sanitizing” the way we think or talk about survival is plain foolish.
A Major Flaw
Large corporations put a great deal of effort into plans to preserve data and – in theory – protect their employees and physical premises. Whether or not their cumbersome plans are even read by staff is questionable, and the subject of another article.
When it comes to small businesses, only about 35% have even a rudimentary plan for how to prepare for and recover from an emergency. (Employee surveys show that employees are aware of this lack.)
Even when a small business does have a Continuation or Continuity Plan, most totally overlook their major asset: their people.
The False Assumption
Business owners seem to be operating on the assumption that their employees and suppliers will continue to be available in an emergency.
“We’ll just pitch in, clean up and get back to business.”
The reality is that everyone impacted by a catastrophe will be preoccupied with their own priorities. The business will take second place and may not even come into focus for hours or days.
It’s no wonder that most small or local businesses simply never reopen their doors after an emergency, or shut them down permanently within a couple of years.
Plugging the Hole
While there is no silver bullet, there are ways to improve your chances of survival. One of the best ways is also often the least expensive. It’s called CERT.
Many cities in the U.S. have an emergency management department and many provide free Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training, in conjunction with FEMA. If your city doesn’t offer the training, it is on line at the FEMA site. (https://www.fema.gov/community-emergency-response-teams/about-community-emergency-response-team)
An astute business owner or senior manager recognizes the conflict of priorities between work and family. Supporting CERT training for employees has benefits for all:
- CERT training starts with security for the family. The sooner employees are confident that their families are O.K., the faster they can turn their attention back to work.
- The same survival skills learned in CERT work for neighborhood groups and work teams.
- A CERT-trained employee is likely to have honed communication and teamwork skills that benefit many areas of the business’s day-to-day operations.
Everybody Wins With CERT Training
Why are city and county governments so willing to put on this training for businesses and communities at little or no cost?
Simple. Trained citizens and prepared businesses have a 500% better chance of survival in a catastrophe.
That means less pressure on the First Responders and Disaster Recovery Operations in the aftermath. It means fewer deaths from “spontaneous” untrained volunteer efforts. And the big benefit is the continued tax revenues that support the community.
No matter how you look at it, Business Continuation Planning and CERT training for citizens and employees is a win-win situation. It should be a no brainer for any business owner.
Ready to start the conversation about emergency training in your own business?
We’ve put together a one-page pdf to get you started. It’s free.
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