ADVOCATE COLUMN 4th WEEK NOVEMBER 2016
No region in New Zealand is exempt from major natural disaster events whether they be seismic, meteorological or some other form. Civil Defence does some amazing things in the country not only helping people when natural disasters strike but also by raising the awareness of the need to be prepared in advance for such emergencies. It’s not uncommon for households to have planned for getting through in times of natural disasters until normal services can be resumed. I’m not sure if this is always the case though with businesses.
The fact is often a small business’s chance of surviving a major natural disaster depend more on what they do before the disaster strikes than after. So it’s worth taking some time to consider how well prepared your business is to deal with the consequences of some event beyond your control disrupting your business.
Firstly consider what type of disaster is most likely where your business is located, for instance in Northland it is more likely to be a weather event than an earthquake. Having decided on the nature of the most likely risks will inform your planning process as to how you are likely to be disrupted and for how long. Having done this, then examine your business. Can you identify what the critical elements of your business are that need to be maintained or restored as soon as possible.
Generally these are going to relate to things like access to your physical premises, IT and communications, power supply, stock and suppliers, capital, your workers and of course your customers. Some of these may be disrupted in a manner beyond your control so you need to ask what of these are you going to have control over in case of an emergency and what can you do to mitigate the risk or influence the time that the disruption will last.
Planning may be as simple as being aware of forecasted weather events and communicating with staff what to do in the event of business being disrupted, it may be securing alternative sources of supply or it may be a more complex and detailed plan. Whatever it is it needs to be well communicated and ideally tested in advance to ensure that it is likely to be fit for purpose because once you have ensured the safety of yourself and your workers, then the next thing to do is ensure that your businesses future is also safe.