September is National Preparedness Month, so on the heels of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria it seems appropriate to review what disasters mean to small businesses.
Any time there is a major weather event, such as the hurricanes in August and September 2017, the personal tragedies—loss of life and property—are dramatic and can’t be ignored. Rebuilding lives and homes takes courage, money, and the support of government and neighbors. For small business owners, there are those who lose a great deal and there are those who can benefit.
Affected by loss
When electricity goes down for extended periods, many small businesses find it difficult if not impossible to survive. According to FEMA, 40% of small businesses go out of business following a disaster. I recall being in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy without electricity for nearly two weeks, which made it impossible to operate my business.
As a group, small business owners typically suffer greatly in disasters. Most do not carry business continuation coverage to pay their overhead while they aren’t functional. And their insurance for property losses may be inadequate. The Wall Street Journal reported that “the National Flood Insurance Program, the only option for most [businesses] since private insurers got out of the flood insurance business nearly a century ago, is sorely out of step with their needs.”
Can anyone benefit?
While disasters mean tragedy for many small businesses, some can benefit immensely. These include:
- Disaster recovery businesses. For example, ServPro teams (ServPro is franchised) began to head for the Houston area even before the rain stopped.
- Construction industry. Companies that help communities rebuild have years of work ahead of them following Hurricane Harvey.
What are the lessons of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, and other disasters for small business owners? Take the time now to review your emergency preparedness plan, including your insurance coverage. Also collect information you would need following a disaster, including contact information with your insurer and access to financial and customer accounts and data backup. Find more information about preparedness for your business from Ready.gov.
And watch for federal legislation to provide tax breaks for those impacted by the recent hurricanes.