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Expect The Unexpected Create a monster plan to disaster-proof your business.

By Julie Cook

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

These days, it's nearly impossible to turn on the eveningnews without hearing of some major disaster. Since 1992, we'vewitnessed three of the four most costly disasters in U.S. history,as Hurricanes Andrew and Opal, along with the Northridge,California, earthquake, caused billions of dollars' worth ofdamage. And it doesn't end there. In 1996 alone, Hurricane Franwreaked havoc along the East Coast, more than 1,000 tornadoesspread terror across the country, and massive flooding brought muchof the Midwest to a standstill.

In spite of all the press coverage, however, many businessowners have yet to develop an effective disaster plan. "Theoverwhelming majority of business operators are simply notprepared," says Gerry Havlena, general manager and CEO ofFirst Restoration Services in Greensboro, North Carolina."They come into work one day and find out their property hasbeen burned or flooded, and they panic because they haven'tdone any planning."

Particularly for small businesses, that lack of planning can bedisastrous. "Many small businesses are not sufficientlycapitalized," explains Sean Mooney, senior vice president ofthe New York City-based Insurance Information Institute. "If adisaster occurs, they'll quickly run out of capital and be outof business."

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