Would your small business survive a terrorist attack?
Come on, why would terrorists attack my small business?
That’s probably just what some south Orlando business owners were thinking until the morning of June 12 when a deranged man with a semi-automatic rifle barged into a neighboring gay nightclub and gunned down more than 100 people – killing 49.
The Pulse Orlando nightclub on Orange Avenue – scene of one of the worst mass shootings in recent American history – is surrounded by nearly 60 small businesses. In the aftermath of the massacre many of those businesses – some a couple of blocks away — were shut down for more than a week during the official investigation.
Our hearts go out to all those who were slain or injured, but let’s also remember that local businesses were victims too. Businesses lost thousands of dollars in sales. Many employees in those businesses didn’t get a paycheck. I fear that like many of the human victims, some of those businesses were mortally wounded and won’t survive the summer.
Fortunately, most small businesses will never experience a terror attack, but disasters come in many forms — from terrorists to tornadoes. Here are some tips that might help you:
- Have a formal disaster plan. Don’t laugh, I know a woman who runs a small janitorial service in Orlando who has a detailed disaster plan to safeguard her key equipment and files so that she would be able to resume operations within a few days of a disaster hitting her business. Click here for more information.
- Make sure you have your key business records – financial records, customer contact information and such — in more than one location. There are a number of services available that you can use to back up your computer files in a remote location or in the “cloud.”
- Maintain a strong social media presence – not just a website. You need a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others so your customers know how to contact you. Use your social-media channels to assure customers that you’re still in business. I know a local restaurant that burned down and the owner was able to retain his fans for more than 18 months when he was able to rebuild and reopen his door.
- Have business insurance – lots of it. I know this is one of those things that many small businesses tend to scrimp on. You’ll wish you made the insurance investment if your business ever experiences a disaster. Recently I heard that some insurance companies also offer “terrorist” coverage. Again, it sounds farfetched until it happens.
- Have a good relationship with someone in the same line of work as your business can also be a godsend. Depending on your line of work, you might be able to run your business from someone else’s location. Also, invest the time to participate in a local business organization, such as a Main Street Association or Chamber of Commerce that may be able to help you if the worst happens.
David D. Porter is principal/owner of www.DavidPorterCommunications.com, an Orlando-based public relations and marketing firm serving small businesses. The firm publishes www.B2BFlorida.com and www.SunRailRiders.com