When a disaster occurs, your family’s safety is your first priority. However, you also want to ensure you create safeguards for other parts of your life now—such as your small business—since you may not be able to focus on them following a catastrophe.
While disaster planning may not seem important day to day, bear in mind that an estimated 25 percent of businesses don't reopen following a disaster. So get started today! Utilize the following tips to help protect your small business from any disasters that may come your way in the future:
Protect your financial and tax records by going paperless. If you receive your financial statements by email, you already have a head start. Back up past W-2s, tax returns and other important business documents digitally using a CD, DVD or cloud service. Going forward, transition to e-statements for your accounts and file tax returns online.
Document all of your business assets. This simple step can save you from insurance headaches and financial heartbreaks after a disaster. Keep a running list of your business equipment and belongings using the approved IRS disaster workbook for businesses. You can—and should—make a video of all the contents of your business (especially high-price items) for insurance and casualty loss claims. (You can also take photos or a video.)
Make emergency and continuity plans. Do you and all of your employees know what to do before, during and after a disaster occurs? Create a plan that addresses the following concerns:
- Learn what actions to take for specific disasters—for example, you seek shelter in radically different places for a tornado or earthquake
- Ensure employees understand your company’s disaster action plan
- Back up computer data regularly
- Decide how you’ll communicate with employees, customers and suppliers/vendors/distributors during and after a disaster
- Assemble a disaster supplies kit, including a portable generator
- Identify community warning systems and evacuation routes
- Practice and maintain your plan
Rely on the IRS. The IRS has a lot of useful information in the event your records are wiped out by a disaster. You can access your tax returns and all attachments by filling out this form. If you just need information from a return, you can order recent transcripts for free by phone or by submitting a request.
While these tips are a good jumping off point, it’s also likely you have resources through your financial institution. For example, Navy Federal Credit Union provides members with online and mobile banking* to keep them connected to their finances in any situation. So what are you waiting for? Get started preparing your business now.
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