Owning a business often seems like jumping from one crisis to another, but there’s a difference between putting out fires around your business and actually fighting a fire in your business. Being prepared for the emergencies that will occasionally rise up can mean the difference between succeeding or failing as a business. As a business owner, it is vital to be ready for some of the most common business emergencies, which can range from physical to financial.
Cash Flow Interruption
For many small business owners, a cash flow interruption can be one of the most serious emergencies you’ll face. It’s very easy for a stop in your cash flow to turn into a full-blown crisis. It’s not uncommon for construction contractors to receive a $20,000 check that bounces, leading to a serious money gap as you try to wrestle free payments from financially unreliable customers. It’s important to have options available in the case of money emergencies. You should already have a line of credit open with your bank to use in times of crisis, but immediately call your service providers like your lenders, contractors and landlord to see if you can work out new payment arrangements while you restructure your finances.
No matter what industry your business is in, workplace injuries can occur at any time. This may be more common in fields like construction or engineering, but even office workers can get hurt on the job or while traveling for work. Having adequate worker’s compensation and business insurance can be the difference between a manageable settlement and expensive ongoing medical bills. It’s important to talk to your insurance agent to make sure that everyone who works for your business, including your subcontractors, are covered by your policies to ensure you don’t take a huge financial hit from an employee injury.
Website and Network Outage
Your website is a vital part of your business, especially if you use your site for e-commerce purposes. While having an attractive website is important to bringing in customer traffic, having an active website is even more important. Website downtime can be incredibly expensive and detrimental to your business. A few years ago, Amazon.com went down for just two hours, costing them an estimated $3.6 million. Obviously few companies operate at Amazon’s level, but if you have a site with 5,000 unique daily visitors, even a 20-minute outage can mean nearly 100 lost visitors. Avoiding network downtime altogether is nearly impossible, but using a remote network monitoring service like iGLASS Networks can help you know immediately when your network goes down and address any issues to resume service.
You can never know when a client, customer or employee will decide to bring a lawsuit against your company, but it is important to be prepared and to know your options. Keeping an attorney on retainer is unrealistic for most small businesses, but many states offer a slate of resources to help business owners cope with legal issues. For instance, the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation will investigate any claims of shoddy workmanship made against your business. Their findings carry significant weight in any trial, so it’s important to know the options at your disposal.
While you can see some disasters – like Hurricane Sandy – coming in advance, other natural disasters and emergencies can sneak up out of nowhere and take you by unwanted surprise. It is possible to be prepared for even the most surprising emergencies. Events like office fires, floods or burglaries take a toll on more than just your property; they can also lead to cash-flow problems and battles with your insurance companies. There are a few steps to take to minimize the damage caused by these emergencies, however. Make sure your facilities have adequate emergency response equipment, that your employees are properly trained to respond to problems and that your insurance will cover any costs you accrue while responding to an emergency.
Rainier Fuclan is a freelance writer for Work Comp Specialists, the largest agency in the state dedicated to workers comp insurance in Florida and Florida business insurance.