Are Small Businesses Ready?

bird in fire

As Australians head towards summer in a year of staggering climate extremes, our continent bears the scars of raging fires, surging floodwaters and destructive tornados. In 2013, we seem to have lurched from one disaster to another. Communities have been devastated by the destruction. Recovery will take years.

With the expected heat of summer in the New Year, communities everywhere have a heightened sense of danger. Yet despite families being educated and residents working together to ensure everyone is Fire Ready, many small businesses remain unaware and unprepared. It seems their preparedness for disaster has been left out of the equation. As a result, they are caught off guard when disaster strikes.

Business recovery is crucial.

Small businesses help to hold a community together, providing employment and adding to the financial prosperity. When businesses are destroyed, the repercussions are widespread and long term. The speed of their recovery after a disaster is crucial to the recovery of the whole community.

Yet small business owners often find it difficult to find the time to access assistance from government or charitable agencies after disasters. In many cases, business owners are also leaders within their community. This means they are involved in multiple activities and focussed on contributing to others. They are the people others look to for assistance and support. All of this impacts on the time they can dedicate to restarting their business, the very thing that will help their community begin to recover. It becomes a Catch 22 situation.

A comprehensive disaster recovery plan

In the understanding that “nothing is more critical to business continuity and the reduction of personal stress after disaster than being prepared for the possibility of disaster,” Anthony Turner and Sandra Slatter have authored a book entitled Are U Ready – surviving small business disaster to assist businesses with their recovery after the trauma of disaster.

Working in disaster recovery over three years with Victorian communities directly impacted by Black Saturday (7 February 2009), and the 2011 floods of Charlton and Rochester, Anthony and Sandra had direct involvement with approximately 1200 small business owners. They were alarmed to find that not a single business or business owner had any form of disaster recovery plan in place.

Presenting a mix of personal anecdotes, research findings and professional observations, the book is designed to be a practical guide to planning and preparation as well as a wakeup call to small businesses. The authors have drawn on personal experiences as well as their professional expertise to create a comprehensive manual which will be invaluable for business owners to consider the risks and begin to plan how to get ready to survive.

The book was written for; “the thousands of small enterprises — whether they are tradespeople, retailers, service providers, health practitioners or whatever; whether they work from home, a factory, a shop or an office; whether they work alone or in groups — to provide a handy, relevant and easily accessible guide to assist them in preventing the often devastating financial and emotional effects of disaster.”

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