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 Learn from these best practices to help you keep your business going during natural disasters.

When it comes to knowing how to prepare and run a business amid a disaster, few groups of small business owners are more skilled—or experienced—than those operating in coastal Louisiana. 

Here, NFIB/Louisiana members Carl Bourgeois of Al Bourgeois Plumbing & Heating in Jefferson Parish, and Kimberly Chauvin of Mariah Jade Shrimp Company in Chauvin, offer their tips for weathering the worst Mother Nature—or your fellow humans—can muster, from hurricanes to oil spills. 

1. Have a Plan.

Chauvin say it’s important to have a plan that’s informed by thinking through multiple scenarios. What happens if you have no power, can’t access files on your computer and have no telephone or cellular service, for example? “Absolutely nothing that you're working with will be functioning,” Chauvin says. “You're going back to old school.” 

Find out the key elements of what your disaster plan should entail. 

2. Consider Your Employees.

When disaster strikes, Bourgeois makes sure he gives his employees time to prepare their own homes and families for what comes next, letting them go home early (before a hurricane, that can be the day before it’s expected to make landfall, for example).

“As a business owner, you don’t want to tell your employees [to go home] at the eleventh hour,” Bourgeois says. “I put my employees first, my customers second, my business next and myself last.” 

And Bourgeois walks the talk: Ahead of a potential hurricane, he gets counter checks from his bank (assuming employees won’t be able to pick them up), makes sure he knows where his employees will be weathering the storm, and sees that they get paid during work stoppages. 

3. Back up Your Data Offsite and Prep for Potential Insurance Claims.

For Bourgeois, it’s not unusual after a hurricane to have his facilities immersed under several feet of water. To keep his critical documents dry and protected, he has them stored in the cloud—and offsite. Bourgeois uses MozyPro, but other companies, such as Dropbox, GoogleDrive and Carbonite offer similar solutions. 

Chauvin, for her part, recommends taking video of your business to back up your insurance claims after the disaster. She keeps this video on a DVD. It’s also wise to make sure you back that video up in the cloud as well. 

RELATED: The Benefits of Cloud Computing and Remote Data Storage

4. Have a Remote Work Site Ready to Go. 

After some disasters, it’s nearly impossible—and unsafe—to immediately resume operations in your normal place of business. That’s why it’s important to identify a safe location away from the damage to maintain operations. Bourgeois, for example, once worked for four months out of a temporary headquarters set up in his mother’s garage. 

RELATED: Ways to Prep Your Staff for a Disaster 


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