Hurricane Irma: What every business owner should learn from it

Hurricane Irma
Living through Hurricane Irma was quite the craze.  It had been almost 10 years since Florida experienced a major hurricane.  Having lived through Frances, Jeanne and Wilma in 2005 was incredible.  Most people hadn’t lived through one of this magnitude.  As usual there was a lot of hype in the media, but all in all it could have been much worse.  Working for our power company here in Florida I could not be prouder of what we accomplished. Then I reflected on what lessons you could take away as a business owner, and here are my top 3 for you to consider.

Be prepared

Have a plan!  With a hurricane or other natural disaster coming your way potentially, you must be prepared.  Develop a plan to cover all aspects of your business.  Where will employees gather after the storm?  How will I contact them after the storm?  What services are critical that I can’t live without?  What happens if I lose internet, and power?  Do I need backup to protect any important files?  What can I do to protect my business from looters?  These are just some questions you can start with.  There are plenty of materials available on the internet that can assist you.  Main point here is: be prepared!

Be ready for cash

Cash is king when there is no power…  Most business rely on power in order to take payment, what if your power and internet are both out after a storm?  How will you operate?  Make provisions in your plan to have plenty of cash available post-storm.  I see it all the time, businesses are closed post storm, but the smart ones use cash and don’t see a dip in their sales.  Figure out ahead of time how you can write receipts by hand and accept cash for payments.  Remember that paper and pencil method?  Works without power and internet every time!  Put a plan in place on how to best react once the coast is clear.

Pace yourself

I spoke to several business owners after the storm, and they all agree that pacing yourself if extremely important.  Let me explain what I mean… In preparation of storm, pace yourself, have a plan and execute on it.  You won’t get it perfect the first time, that is why it may be a good idea to do some dry-runs.  Most large corporations do a special storm dry run once a year to work out the kinks in the process.  The second way to pace yourself is in businesses that actually pick up in activity post storm.  They get a flurry of work, and people make a ton of money.  Only issue is that towards the end of the year when the storm effects passed, they go out of business because they neglected to save for a rainy day.

In summary

Get yourself a plan, and walk through it often.  Be ready for cash, and be the first business to open up post storm.  Pace yourself as you work through after the storm clears.  One thing to remember is to be safe and think about all possible things that could go wrong.
Until next time.
Joeri