The recent Napa earthquake leads to an important question: has your business ever been affected by a natural disaster, such as a fire, flood, earthquake or tornado? Even if you’ve been untouched so far, the recent news says businesses of all sizes must be prepared for the worst. Here are some steps you can take to protect yourself.

Step 1: Identify Risks. Begin by identifying the natural disasters to which your business and your area are susceptible. This might include incidents specific to your business (such as a burst pipe that floods your building or a loose wire that ignites a fire) or regional natural disasters (such as a flood caused by storms or a wildfire caused by drought conditions). Your insurance agent can help identify which risks you should protect yourself against.

Step 2: Identify Key Business Functions. Next, identify which business operations are mission-critical to keeping your business up and running. For example, being able to communicate with customers and ship orders in a timely fashion is a critical operation; so is paying employees and vendors. Updating your blog and ad placements are not critical.

Step 3: Identify Potential Impact of Disaster. Finally, consider how each type of disaster on your list might affect your critical business operations and your business as a whole. If a fire burned all of your customer records, how would you process orders? If floods kept employees from getting to work, how would you serve clients? Negative impacts could include lost or delayed sales or income, insufficient cash flow to cover expenses, dissatisfied customers, and additional expenses for outsourcing, hiring temporary employees or paying additional fees to expedite shipments. Your first priority is developing strategies to deal with the disasters that are most likely to occur and those with the biggest negative impact. However, your plan should ultimately encompass all the disasters that could potentially affect your business. Brother International, who provided much of the above information, offers an eguide with additional information. Go to

About the Author(s)

 Jim  Martin

Jim Martin is a skillful writer and publicist whose background was in the semi-conductor and aerospace industries. He worked in both market development and strategic account marketing, and along the way produced materials for product role-outs, brochures, technical manuals, and press releases. Jim also served as editor of a technical magazine in the electronics field. For the past ten years, he...

Writing and Marketing, SCORE SCCS