Preparing for a disaster situation doesn't just protect business from losing money in times of crises, it could actually create an opportunity for them to generate profit.

“People will need services, water, power, sanitation, food, shelter and if their businesses are able to provide those services, they can take advantage of them in distress situations,”

Mark Wilson, Getty Images
Mark Wilson, Getty Images

Forbes was one of the keynote speakers at a seminar hosted by the U.S Resilience Project, the New Jersey Small Business Development Center at Brookdale Community College, and the Monmouth Ocean Development Council- focusing on what businesses need to do to survive, and flourish, in a disaster situation.

The two key messages from the seminar, plan ahead and focus on solutions rather than the causes of problems.

“The same processes that we would use to manage business interruption from rising sea level, we would use for a terrorist attack,” said Debbie Van Opstal, Executive Director of the U.S. Resilience Project.

Planning ahead is vital noted Forbes because it is near impossible to implement a new system successfully in the heat of an emergency. Creating fictional scenarios with the group of forty attendees, Forbes discussed the plight of a fictional restaurant who faced a variety of struggles ranging from a flooded dining room, travel restrictions on the roads, or a viral outbreak in the community. An online ordering system was proposed as a solution to address all of the issues; however customers need to know about the system long before any fictional flood or viral outbreak so they are already comfortable with it.

Additionally, business were advised to keep financial information up to date and backed up remotely (through an external drive or cloud based service), identify the needs of customers in case of an emergency, and make sure to have adequate insurance coverage.

“It’s all about cash flow. All you have to do is close your doors for a week, that’s a huge impact on your cash flow. What are you going to do from there?” said Jackeline Mejias-Fuertes, director of the Small Business Development Center at Brookdale Community College.


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