30 Jan ‘Resilience in a Box’ Puts Small Businesses on a Better Footing After Disaster
Small businesses are the anchor of the U.S. economy. In fact, over 99 percent of the companies in America are considered small and the vast majority of firms (88 percent) have fewer than 20 employees.
But most of these businesses have no plan in place to deal with a major disaster such as an earthquake, fire, tornado or hurricane. Only one-third of small businesses have a plan to deal with the catastrophic effects of a natural disaster, and many of these businesses will never be able to reopen their doors after a disaster does strike.
To give businesses a better chance at survival post-disaster, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation created a free resource called Resilience in a Box. The collection of tips, best practices and checklists educates business leaders on their vulnerabilities in a disaster, helps them mitigate the potential impact, and puts them on a path to building business resilience.
Introduced in fall 2017 on the heels of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, Resilience in a Box was created with funding assistance from the UPS Foundation, which is also a major partner of Good360.
Not coincidentally, this project shares many of the same goals that Good360 has been advocating with our Resilient Response initiative, which encourages corporations to give more thoughtfully to create stronger communities better able to withstand the next disaster.
For small businesses, the day-to-day challenges of serving customers, training employees, and paying the bills takes immediate precedence. Planning for something that might or might not happen in the future doesn’t always inspire the same urgency.
“We find that so many businesses are pulled in so many different directions,” said Brooks Nelson, Director of Global Resilience at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Corporate Citizenship Center. “Too often, preparing for business interruptions gets pushed to the back burner. Resilience in a Box makes disaster planning top of mind so business owners are prepared when a catastrophic event happens, even if they can never imagine it happening to them.”
The resource is conveniently categorized into three levels: Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced. In the first level, it’s simply a Business Preparedness Checklist that allows businesses to score themselves on their emergency readiness. Businesses answer a series of “yes or no” questions, including whether they have:
- Identified the possible hazards (natural and man-made) which could interrupt your business
- Maintained procedures to communicate after a disaster with employees, suppliers, vendors, customers, and the public
- Made accessible all important data or files for decision-making if you were unable to access your facility, e.g. after a fire
- Maintained updated emergency contact information for employees, vendors, suppliers, customers, and other key contacts
The Basic level also offers a handy list of the Top 20 Tips for Business Preparedness, including:
- Build your plan and create a “grab-n-go” case
- Recruit employee volunteers to become trained emergency responders
- Protect your inventory and storage before it is lost to the disaster and you have nothing to sell
- Take the message home: Develop a prepared workforce – business readiness doesn’t end at work
The Intermediate level builds upon these checklists and tips by helping businesses determine specific mitigation actions that are tailored for their operations. Business leaders create an emergency action plan by going through a very detailed Business Disaster Resilience 101 Workbook, which addresses six critical assets before a disaster occurs: People, Data, Operations, Inventory, Equipment, and Buildings.
“Understanding what your critical assets are will assist you in identifying where your business is vulnerable to interruption,” the workbook says. “If most of a business’ revenue comes primarily from its inventory, then a business should prioritize protecting or fortifying this asset from damage and losses from disasters such as a flood, earthquake, or fire.”
The Advanced level is optional and provides full business continuity and disaster planning solutions to create resilience against all hazards. This level offers recommendations for a software program that provides an interactive, step-by-step approach to building a customizable emergency plan.
Building resilience isn’t just good business practice; it’s also good for the community. When a business is able to bounce back from a disaster, it puts the larger community in a better position as well.
“It goes hand in hand,” Brooks said. “The faster a business can reopen, the faster the community can recover. And the more quickly the community can recover, the faster businesses can recover. Business resilience helps keep that symbiotic relationship intact and thriving.”
Interested in learning more about the principles of the Resilient Response Initiative and pledge to give thoughtfully and purposefully during and after disasters? Click here.