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How to keep calm and deal with a disaster

3-minute read

Natural disasters such as droughts, bushfires and floods have a serious impact on everyday life for those affected. While primary producers, such as farmers, are often the most visible victims, the knock-on effect for small business owners, such as those in the manufacturing, retail and tourism sectors, can be felt for months and even years.

Our step-by-step guide will walk you through ways you can plan for the worst and keep your business running after a natural disaster.

Download how to keep calm and deal with a disaster (PDF 73KB)

Key take-outs

  • Always be prepared and plan for the worst-case scenario.
  • Create a disaster-recovery plan and keep it updated, with some alternative arrangements if your supply chains are disrupted.
  • Focus on what you need to do to keep your business running.

Protecting your business against a natural disaster doesn't just mean protecting your own workplace and assets. Your suppliers and clients may also be affected, so it's vital to map out where your business could be most vulnerable and how you can minimise your risk.

Each disaster will affect different businesses in different ways, but there are practical steps all business owners can take to protect themselves. Here's where to start.

1. How should you prepare?

First, prepare for a range of potential outcomes. This starts by knowing your disaster risk – understanding your vulnerabilities and putting necessary protections in place to safeguard yourself against physical damage. Depending on where you're based, this may include:

  • Bushfires, if you're in an area with low humidity, temperate weather and surrounding forest.
  • Floods, if you're in low-lying areas or coastal locations.
  • Cyclones, if you're based in a tropical region.

Don't just think about your premises. Look at the location of your suppliers and regular clientele and assess the risks and hazards they face.

2. What's your worst-case scenario?

From major bushfire disasters to historic flooding in Far North Queensland, many businesses have endured severe financial hardship and closure in the wake of a natural disaster.

It’s essential to prepare for the worst by taking proactive steps to protect your business. This may include:

  • Having a Plan B in place if your supply chain is interrupted.
  • Taking steps to protect your physical infrastructure.
  • Reviewing your business insurance policy to ensure you're covered against the costs of major damage.

3. What to include in a disaster recovery plan

Once you've taken steps to protect your business, create a disaster recovery plan and share it with your employees. This should include:

  • What to do immediately following a disaster.
  • An internal and external communications plan.
  • Who is in charge of what.
  • How to make a decision on the long-term future of your organisation.

4. Stay calm and manage the response as best you can

It may be hard but you'll need to keep your business running after a natural disaster.

This means putting your disaster recovery plan into action, conducting a business assessment plan following an emergency, getting in touch with all affected suppliers, and then following government advice on what to do after an emergency. This may include:

  • Managing your cash flow
  • Making an insurance claim
  • Chasing up debtors
  • Helping employees return to work
  • Recovering your sensitive data and systems

Remember, you can't control a natural disaster, but you can take control of your response to one.

Each business will need to make their own plans for a worst-case scenario. This includes, identifying the risks, developing an action plan for implementation, and training your staff accordingly. 

Read more

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Business continuity

Protection to cover your fixed business expenses.

Things you should know

This information does not take into account your personal circumstances and is general. It is an overview only and should not be considered a comprehensive statement on any matter or relied upon. Consider obtaining personalised advice from a professional financial adviser and your accountant before making any financial decisions in relation to the matters discussed in this article, including when considering tax and finance options for your business.