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Preparing for an emergency used to be an easier task for small businesses. Coastal companies could plan for hurricane season and northern businesses could expect a blizzard or two every winter. But businesses now face a host of other potentially disruptive disasters – wildfires, power outages, public health emergencies, and cyberattacks, to name just a few. Don’t let National Preparedness Month come to a close without updating your company’s plan for expecting the unexpected.

The good news is that you don’t have to start from scratch. Federal agencies – and offices in your home state – have compiled checklists and resources to help you customize a preparedness plan. The Small Business Administration (SBA) has advice about preparing for emergencies and getting your company back on its feet financially if disaster strikes. Through the Ready Business initiative, the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA have toolkits, business plans, and training exercises for companies of all sizes. The IRS has information in multiple languages about paperless business recordkeeping and continuity of operations in case of a disruption.

In addition, the FTC’s Dealing with Weather Emergencies (also available in Spanish) features actionable advice, videos, infographics, and other resources for your business. Here are just a few points to consider as you’re updating your company’s emergency plan.

  • Job #1: Help protect your staff. Good companies look after their people come rain or shine. Sharing preparedness information with your employees can help keep them safe in uncertain times. Dealing with Weather Emergencies is a one-stop shop that covers family emergency preparedness, financial recovery, scam spotting, and links to resources from other government agencies.
  • A key part of your back-up plan is to back up your data. How would your business respond if a weather emergency – or even a broken pipe or a fire in your building – were to destroy essential paperwork or damage devices? And what would happen if a cyberattack locks you out of your own network? Work with your IT staff to ensure you’re taking a secure approach to backing up important business records. The FTC’s Cybersecurity Basics for Small Business offers practical advice. Two key steps can help protect you from the unexpected. First, conduct an information inventory to know what data you have and where you have it. In addition to your network, consider what’s stored in file cabinets, office computers, laptops, smartphones, and even employees’ home offices. Second, streamline what you collect and what you retain. Of course, some files you have to hold on to. But it’s easier – and less expensive – to protect a smaller amount of sensitive data. That’s why savvy companies make it a practice to collect information only if they have a legitimate business need for it and to securely dispose of both digital files and paperwork when that business need no longer exists.
  • Be part of the solution. Here’s an unpleasant, but inevitable, truth. After an emergency, scammers seem to come out in force. Take advantage of your standing in the business community – and your social media network – to alert people in your locale about the risks of disaster-related fraud: for example, clean-up and repair scams, phony job offers, government impersonators, and solicitations for bogus charities. Dealing with Weather Emergencies features social media shareables to help amplify your voice.
     

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The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

  • We won’t post off-topic comments, repeated identical comments, or comments that include sales pitches or promotions.
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  • We won’t post comments that include personal information, like Social Security numbers, account numbers, home addresses, and email addresses. To file a detailed report about a scam, go to ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

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Elliott
October 06, 2023

Protecting a business is a very important issue for the owner.
You should have the right tools to do it.

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