From the time we are children, we’re taught emergency preparedness. We practice fire drills, evacuation procedures, and how to stop, drop, and roll. We learn that the best thing to do if you get lost is to stay put and make noise until somebody finds you. We’re taught how to find shelter during bad weather and – in case of imminent danger – to get out, get to safety, and get help.
As an adult living in the Pacific Northwest, there are certain times of the year when a “go bag” lives by our front door, a tangible measure of preparedness against earthquakes, hurricanes, and wildfires. Over the last few years of upheaval and uncertainty, we’ve also stocked up on canned goods, bottles of water, toilet paper, and essential medications.
These are some of the most basic, rudimentary ways that we collectively try to safeguard against times of crisis. But if we’ve learned anything in recent years, it’s not only our homes, families, and communities that need to be prepared.
Does Your Business Have a Back-Up Plan?
In the early stages of starting your business, every day is a matter of survival. Then, once you’ve established a viable foundation, most business owners are doing their damndest to keep up with the demands of a growing company. Emergency planning looks much like it did when we were children – fire alarms, smoke detectors, and evacuation routes. Plus, hopefully, insurance coverage.
As we are already far too aware, that isn’t nearly enough to keep a business afloat for long when disaster strikes. While this isn’t exactly the seasonal inspiration that Hallmark movie magic is made of, building a go bag for your business is the best practice to give you peace of mind.
Think of it as the gift that keeps on giving.
How to Build Your Business Go Bag
There are four essential components that every business needs to be prepared in case of emergency.
This is your business go bag.
#1: Forge a Foundation of Financial Security
While I don’t entirely agree with everything Mike Michalowicz says in his book, “Profit First,” the basic premise is spot on. When your profit margin is determined by your business expenses, what’s left at the end of the day often isn’t enough to ride out a rough patch – especially with inflation escalating at an alarming rate.
Putting profit first not only creates a realistic, sustainable framework for managing your business expenses, it also puts you in a position to establish some company savings and reinvest in future growth.
#2: You Need a Rollercoaster Fund
When it feels like the sky is falling, the last thing you want to be doing is scrambling to cover paychecks while keeping the shelves stocked and the lights on. While emergency grants and loans might be available when you need them most, finding funding is stressful enough when your company isn’t bleeding red.
Securing a business line of credit when you’re solvent will mean you have a financial safety net before you ever need one.
#3: Update Your Operating Procedures
Now that you’ve covered the essentials of survival, you need an action plan to sustain your business. In times of stress, having efficient and effective Standard Operating Procedures to fall back on will buoy your team, your clients, and your company through the waves.
These policies and procedures create clear expectations and a “How To” guide to getting the job done. If you don’t have up-to-date SOPs in place, this guide will help make the process as painless as possible.
#4: Get Grounded in a Support Network
Whether it means turning to your business besties for a word of encouragement, an inspirational brainstorming session, or calling on your coach to help you find your way through the challenges facing your company, we all need support. Knowing there is someone in your corner who has your back (and will call you on your shit) can be the difference between going out of business and finding opportunities to carry you through the obstacles ahead.
At the heart of it all, life and business are about relationships. Be intentional about nurturing the ones that nourish you, and they will help keep your feet – and your company – on solid ground.
A Business Plan for Peace of Mind
The best time to prepare for an emergency is when there isn’t one. Having these practices and plans in place will not only make it easier to manage unexpected crises, they’ll make your business more sustainable, so you can pursue success and plan for the future with peace of mind.