From drought to floods, bushfires and now COVID-19, it’s been a heck of a year for Australia.  As businesses reel from a spate of unprecedented disasters, and personal financial crises continue to loom large for many, is it time you considered how to safeguard your livelihood in times of crisis? YBI reports

If you’re an optimist, planning for disaster may seem like the last thing you want to do.  However, the best way to look at it is to imagine what would happen to you and your family should misfortune fall. For many of us that day has already arrived.  The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how Australians live and work forever. 100s of thousands of Australian small business have closed their doors, the unemployment rate is expected to hit double digits and people are struggling to make ends meet. If there was ever a time to enact a disaster plan, it’s now.

Planning for disaster can be difficult for even the largest of businesses. Yet that doesn’t mean small businesses and families should forgo a disaster plan. Instead taking steps now could help you recover following prolonged down time and ensure your business and family thrive when things finally go back to normal.

How will you respond?

When disaster strikes, people’s fight or flight response is often triggered. It’s important to understand this when planning your initial response. Having a plan in place can help you avoid analysis paralysis or any ill-advised decisions. Determine what your business priorities should be in the wake of a disaster. Then develop a response based on this. For small businesses forced to close their doors due to COVID-19 restrictions, pivoting to online would be a natural first step.   But what are your barriers to this? Do you have the systems set up to ensure you can continue trading? Are your staff trained to respond? If the answer is no, upskilling and embracing digital tech need to be your first steps.

What about communication?

Whether you run a business or are simply concerned about the wellbeing of your family during a time of crisis, ensuring communication lines remain open is essential. If you’re a business communicating with key clients and suppliers should be top of your list. Also you should check in with local agencies to see what support services may be available.  You may also need to contact local and state emergency agents, your insurer, repair services, your bank, your creditors and more.  Ensure you have a list of contact information for all of these people and groups, you can make your post-disaster communication swifter and more efficient.

Engage with your customers

Any business that experiences significant down time understands there will be customer losses and income losses as a result. Avoid this as much as possible by creating a marketing strategy to keep your business front of mind with your customers. Stay active on your social channels, email important clients and keep them updated or reach out directly via phone or video conferencing. The more you keep your customers in the picture the less likely you are to lose their business.

Keep a backup

It goes without say – but I’m saying it anyway – every business needs to keep a backup of their critical data. [that’s it, enough said]

Identify critical activities and look for opportunities 

Some sectors of Australian businesses have been severely impacted by COVID-19 Notably retail, hospitality and travel – yet many canny business owners have identified opportunities to pivot so that they can continue to trade.  There’s very good chance you too have opportunities to pivot your business to regain some revenue in the months ahead. Look at what activities could possibly bring in new business and what resources you’d need to see them come to fruition.

 It’s a sad fact that some small businesses may never recover from the impact of the coronavirus crisis. To ensure you, your family and your business come out the other side of the pandemic try implementing a disaster recovery plan to see how you might put your best foot forward during and after COVID-19.