When it comes to virtually any disaster, you can't rely on
Uncle Sam--or anyone else--to step in and fix it, as Lehrer of
Leros Point to Point quickly found out.
"County and state officials were sympathetic to our woes,
but they couldn't help us," Lehrer says. "By the time
you fill out the applications and get the money, you're out of
Even when you don't have a crisis plan in place, acting
quickly and decisively can make all the difference. "The
longer a crisis goes on, the more damage it does and the harder it
is to overcome," says Smith. "The quicker a company
begins to respond to crisis, the quicker it's over and the less
damage it will do."
But the most important part of surviving any kind of disaster is
to make it a "rehearsed event," says Laye. Create a plan,
then practice it until you have your response down cold. "If
you're prepared for it, if your management team considers it a
rehearsed event, then it doesn't have to be a
catastrophe," explains Laye. "Getting started is tough,
but the payoff is magnificent because there's no way to prevent
these things. Anyone who gives that serious thought will be
|Better Safe Than Sorry|
YOU'VE GOT EVERYTHING COVERED IN YOUR DISASTER PLAN? MAKE SURE
WITH OUR SURVIVAL CHECKLIST.|
- Stock up on
emergency supplies and information. The American Red Cross offers several
comprehensive guides on what to do before disaster
- Create a list of
all your employees and how to reach them. Remember to
distribute copies to emergency team leaders.
- Set up a remote
call-forwarding service with your phone provider. In the
event of a crisis, you can quickly re-route all calls to a new
- Identify places
that can be used as temporary relocation facilities.
Make arrangements with hotel chains or conferencing facilities
before a crisis so your company and your employees have priority if
space becomes scarce.
- Back up all
computer data every night and store it in a secure, off-site
location. Online backup offers several advantages for
small businesses, including the ability to access your data from
remote locations; @backup and Connected TLM offer a wide range of data
- Make emergency
arrangements with a service provider. If your business
relies heavily on computers for its day-to-day operations, arrange
with providers such as Agility Recovery
Systems or Sungard Availability
Services to have replacement systems available within a
specified number of hours.
- Document duties
and responsibilities for each job. That way, someone can
step in when a key employee is incapacitated.
business interruption insurance. For more information,
visit the Insurance Information Institute's
- Think about
hiring a crisis-management or business continuity
consultant. The Service Core of Retired Executives has
389 offices in the United States that offer crisis-management
counseling to small businesses. You can find the one nearest you at
Daniel Tynan is a freelance writer living in Wilmington,
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This article was originally published in the April 2003 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: In Case of Emergency.
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