Are You Prepared for Your Small Business to Flatline? Why did small businesses go bankrupt in this downturn? They didn't plan for catastrophe. Here's a guide to the risks your business should consider and plan for to thrive no matter what.

By Carol Tice

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Are You Prepared for Your Small Business to Flatline

Whenever there's an economic downturn, many small businesses go bust.

Why? Because they didn't plan for the crash.

At one point in my writing career, I wrote copy for a global insurance and business consultancy. There, I learned all about the art of risk mitigation. Big global companies engage in enterprise risk management, examining every type of risk in their planning and devising strategies for surviving the worst-case scenario.

Small business owners can learn a lot from the process. Some of the factors to look at include:

Internal company risk: Employees who embezzle or that important sales manager who leaves suddenly

Key man risk: The business revolves around a "key man's" personal relationships with clients, and this person could leave the company or die

Currency risk: The dollar weakens or strengthens in relation to other currencies, impacting an import or export business

Supply-chain risk: Vendors go bust, goods fall off a shipping barge, or the price of gas shoots up

Facilities risk: A fire or theft at your store, office or warehouse

Acts of God: Floods, earthquakes, damage from hail

Civil unrest: Everything from Occupy Wall Street Protests blocking access to your storefront to government overthrow to full-scale war

Once each risk is identified, business owners need to run what-if scenarios.

Do you have enough money saved? A disaster plan for how your business would run if your home base was destroyed or your electricity went out for weeks? Are you properly insured? Do you have safeguards in place to prevent employee theft?

Four years into this downturn, there probably isn't a small business owner around who isn't aware that things can go wrong. But do you have a plan for what you'd do if business got worse? Now's the time to start planning for the next curveball life will throw at your business.

What do you do when business flatlines? Leave a comment and share your disaster plan.

Carol Tice

Owner of Make a Living Writing

Longtime Seattle business writer Carol Tice has written for Entrepreneur, Forbes, Delta Sky and many more. She writes the award-winning Make a Living Writing blog. Her new ebook for Oberlo is Crowdfunding for Entrepreneurs.

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