Doing Business

Small Business Planning

Common Issues that Small Businesses May Encounter

  • Capital access. Incidents can strain a small business’s financial capacity to make payroll, maintain inventory and respond to market fluctuations (both sudden drops and surges in demand). Businesses should prepare by exploring and testing their capital access options so they have what they need when they need it. View the SBA’s capital access resources.

  • Workforce capacity. Incidents have just as much impact on your workers as they do your clientele. It’s critical to ensure that your workers have the ability to fulfill their duties while protected.

  • Inventory and supply chain shortfalls. While the possibility could be remote, it’s a good preparedness measure to ensure you have either adequate supplies of inventory for a sustained period and/or diversify your distributor sources in the event that one supplier cannot meet an order request.

  • Facility remediation/clean-up costs. Depending on the incident, there may be a need to improve the protection of customers and staff by increasing the frequency and intensity that your business cleans surfaces that are frequently touched by occupants and visitors. Check your maintenance contracts and supplies of cleaning materials to ensure they can meet increases in demand.

  • Insurance coverage issues. Many businesses have business interruption insurance. Now is the time to contact your insurance agent to review your policy to understand precisely what you are and are not covered for in the event of an extended incident.

  • Changing market demand. Depending on the incident, there may be access controls or movement restrictions established which can impede your customers from reaching your business. Additionally, there may be concerns about public exposure to an incident, and customers may decide not to go to your business out of concern of exposing themselves to greater risk. SBA’s resources partners and district offices have trained experts who can help craft a plan specific to your situation to help navigate any rapid changes in demand.

  • Marketing. It’s critical to communicate openly with your customers about the status of your operations, what protective measures you’ve implemented, and how customers will be protected when they visit your business. Promotions may also help incentivize customers who may be reluctant to patronize your business.

  • Plan. As a business, bring your staff together and prepare a plan for what you will do if the incident worsens or improves. (More information on how to create a business continuity plan is located further down this page.) It’s also helpful to conduct a tabletop exercise to simulate potential scenarios and how your business management and staff might respond to the hypothetical scenario in the exercise. For examples of tabletop exercises, visit FEMA’s website.

Business Continuity Plans

Every business should have an emergency plan to ensure that its resources aren’t overwhelmed in times of need, and that their customers will continue to receive products or services on time. Additionally, costs can add up if the business is forced to close for an undetermined amount of time.

Businesses who are prepared with a plan can resume service faster, and might be able to assist with community recovery.

Elements of a Business Continuity Plan

  • Determine and document which staff, materials, procedures, and equipment are absolutely necessary to keep your business operating.

  • Identify and document your suppliers, shippers, and other important resources.

  • Define and document crisis management procedures and individual responsibilities in advance.

  • Plan for your building or brick-and-mortar location to be inaccessible.

  • Plan for payroll continuity.

  • Include employees from all levels in your planning, to ensure that it makes sense from all perspectives, from front-line to management.

  • Keep both digital and physical copies of important records – lease agreements, insurance policies, employee contract and identification information, bank account records, etc. – in multiple secure locations.

  • If your business is a multi-tenant building or complex, consider working with neighboring businesses to share resources and create a continuity plan that covers all of your needs.

Learn more about creating a continuity plan by viewing FEMA’s Business Continuity Guide.

More Resources

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