10 steps to help rebuild your business after a natural disaster


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Thousands upon thousands of business owners face this issue every year, all over the world. Natural disasters take many shapes and forms and the impact on a region can vary from being an inconvenience for a few days to complete destruction that will take years to rebuild.

Business owners have to somehow manage this and when faced with disaster, figure out how to pick up the pieces and start again.

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10 steps to help rebuild your business after a natural disaster

  1. 1. Your business hasbeen damaged or destroyed by a natural disaster. What now? 10 steps to help you pick up the pieces and rebuild Andrew Griffiths
  2. 2. Your business has been damaged Even setting up a TV in your building helps. It feels like you are connected to the outside worldor destroyed by a natural and not feeling quite as isolated. Do whateverdisaster, what now? you can to get connected and in touch with the outside world, even by doing something asThousands upon thousands of business owners simple as talking to a neighbour you haven’t metface this issue every year, all over the world. before.Natural disasters take many shapes and formsand the impact on a region can vary from being 2. Break the rebuilding process into smaller,an inconvenience for a few days to complete more manageable chunksdestruction that will take years to rebuild. When standing in a devastated office, shop ofBusiness owners have to somehow manage this factory, the amount of things that need to beand when faced with disaster, figure out how to done can be totally overwhelming. The best waypick up the pieces and start again. to deal with this is to break the big and overwhelming “to do’s” into small moreTo try and support people in this position I have manageable chunks. This is a great philosophywritten “10 STEPS TO HELP YOU REBUILD.” for life and it will certainly help at a time like this.Please pass this article onto anyone who may Whenever you find yourself starting to feelneed some help. Having a simple process to overwhelmed about what needs to be done -follow can go a long way to giving focus, clarity start on the smaller jobs, one by one, and beforeand most importantly hope. you know it you will be back on track.1. Set up communication to the outside 3. Let your suppliers know what is going onworld. – they will want to helpThe first step in the rebuilding process is to make Remember that if your business is not makingsure you are connected to the outside world and money neither are your suppliers, so it is in theirthis normally means a working telephone. It best interest to help you get up and running asmight just be your mobile for now, but you can quickly as possible. Even though it might be aget your main business line diverted to the few weeks before you are ready for stock ormobile for the time being. At least you can get replacement equipment, place the order now socalls and stay in touch with people trying to that you are in the system. If promotionalcontact you. material is destroyed, let them know so you can get some more on the way. Talk about payments -Having an internet connection and email is also it is better to be upfront and clarify what youimportant to get set up. It might mean hiring need, especially if there is an insurance claimsome computer equipment or getting your mobile pending. You might be surprised how flexible yourphone set up for internet connection (if you suppliers will be. The more your communicatehaven’t already) but much of the rebuilding with them the better off you will be.information will come via the internet. With socialmedia such as Twitter and Facebook, there issome incredibly helpful information comingthrough all the time and if you are connected,you can benefit from it.
  3. 3. 4. Talk to your bank and credit card 6. Keep your staff informed providers This is a tough time for employees in smallCash flow is going to be a big issue, particularly businesses in particular. They know that thein the short term. Make the call to your bank and business owner generally doesn’t have a lot ofto any institution where you have credit and let money and with none coming in, plus the cost ofthem know what has happened. Most of the time the rebuild, their job is in jeopardy. Which is ofthey will be incredibly supportive by deferring course the truth. Tell your staff what isrepayments. Regardless of whether you need this happening, be honest and lay it on the line. Asright now or not, it is good to know that you have hard as it is, the pressure of doing what you needit available. to do as well as trying to protect your staff from hard news is simply too much. You might just beOn another note, if you take credit cards in your surprised by the response from your staff - mostbusiness you might want to get a hold of a will roll up their sleeves and do what they can tomanual machine to at least be able to process help, regardless of whether they are getting paidcredit card payments with the old “click clack or not.machine”. It is very likely that there will be manypower interruptions once the rebuilding process Talk to the Government relief organisations - theystarts. Down time due to power cuts or telephone might be able to give your staff some fundingline upgrades can mean lost sales - clearly the and let them keep working to help you rebuild thelast thing you need now. business.5. Talk to the ATO 7. Keep new records, take photos, keep samples of damaged stock and equipmentThe ATO might be the last people you want to talkto in the midst of a major disaster, but from my When confronted with a pile of rubble or a foot ofexperience they can really help. They will be able mud, our initial desire is to get rid of it all so thatto give you advice, support and in reality, they we can start with a clean slate. But it iscan take some of the financial burden from you important to take photos along the way that showwith revised payment plans for paying tax. the extent of the damage to stock, to buildings and to equipment. This is important forWhy is this so important now? One of the biggest insurance claims, many of which won’t be paidfears for business owners facing a rebuild of their unless there is some record or proof of damage.business is the cost. Who knows how muchmoney will be needed or how long it will take to My advice is that you keep a small pilestart trading again? The less pressure you have somewhere of damaged stock or equipment.on you, particularly financial, the better. If you Take as many photos as you can and keep adon’t have to worry about your mortgage for journal of what you throw out and when youthree months, that is a big relief. Likewise if you threw it out.can defer your tax payments, you get somebreathing space. Sure, you still have to pay, butright now the focus is on getting the businessoperation again so you can some cash flow.
  4. 4. 8. Manage your physical and emotional meaning to make but never quite seem to getwellbeing around to.It is very easy to get sick at a time like this. The It is the opportune time to think about youremotional toll is enormous, something we can future, what you want out of your business andeasily overlook. Add to this working long hours in where you are heading. It is a time to rebuild notless than ideal conditions and the potential to get just your business but your dreams and yourreally ill is extremely high. You simply have to take goals.care of yourself as this is a marathon event. Most importantly it is a time to think about whatThis means eating as well as you can, drinking you have, not what you have lost, and to belots of water, resting and sleeping as often as you grateful.can. Once you have finished the rebuilding stageyou will need your energy to drive the business ________________________________________forward. Reach out to other business owners whoare going through the same thing and encourage DONATIONS - There are always people inthem to take a break, have a drink and pace need of help after natural disasters. Ithemselves. encourage you to give generously to those in need, by a charity or not for profit of your9. Let your customers know what is going on choice.As soon as you are operating again, even if it is in Thank you,reduced capacity, hang that shingle out, turn on Andrew Griffiths - Authorthe lights and yell it from the street corner. It is www.andrewgriffiths.com.auvital that you get customers coming back to yourbusiness and spending money as quickly aspossible and believe me, they will want tosupport you and your business.The key here is to keep your customers informedabout the progress of your business restoration.When you do open up be sure to ask yourcustomers to tell their friends that you are openand trading.10. There is always an upside - this is theopportunity to rebuild your business the wayyou have always wanted it toI know that it is hard to see the upside or thebright side of things at a time like this, but lifesomehow always seems to give us anunexpected positive when faced by adversity.I feel that in this instance it is a chance to thinkabout your business, the changes you have been
  5. 5. A few words of “Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”inspiration.... George Bernard Shaw “Only those who dare to fail greatly can everI have put a few quotes here to help with the achieve greatly.”recovery process. Sometimes the right words Robert F. Kennedyat the right time can make a huge amount ofdifference. People are amazingly resilient “There are two kinds of people, those whoand anyone who has overcome adversity do the work and those who take the credit.tends to reinforce this incredible human Try to be in the first group, there is lessquality. competition there.” Indira Gandhi“One who gains strength by overcomingobstacles possesses the only strength which “If you believe in what you are doing, then letcan overcome adversity.” nothing hold you up in your work. Much of Albert Schweitzer the best work of the world has been done against seeming impossibilities. The thing is“It is not what we get, but who we become, to get the work done.”what we contribute … that gives meaning to Dale Carnegieour lives.” Tony Robbins “Success is dependent upon the glands—   sweat glands.” Zig Ziglar“A man who carries a cat by the tail learnssomething he can learn in no other way.” “All wise men share one trait in common—the Mark Twain ability to listen.” Frank Tyger“No one can make you feel inferiorwithout your consent.” “Success is the ability to go from one failure Eleanor Roosevelt to another with no loss of enthusiasm.” Sir Winston Churchill“There are only two ways to live. One is asthough nothing is a miracle. The other is asif everything is.” Albert Einstein  “I violated the Noah rule: predicting rain doesn’t count; building arks does.”“A true handicap is what we don’t do with Warren Buffettwhat we have, not what we can’t do withwhat we don’t have.” “If you want to be successful, find someone Christopher Brewer who has achieved the results you want and copy what they do and you’ll achieve the same results.” Tony Robbins“Obstacles are those frightful things you seewhen you take your eyes off your goals.” “If you’re passionate about what it is you do, Sydney Smith then you’re going to be looking for everything you can to get better at it.”“I think you can accomplish anything if you’re Jack Canfieldwilling to pay the price.” Vince Lombardi
  6. 6. “Success is a journey, not a destination.” “Do the one thing you think you cannot do. H. Tom Collard Fail at it. Try again. Do better the second time. The only people who never tumble are“The time to repair the roof is when the sun those who never mount the high wire. This isis shining.” your moment. Own it.” John F. Kennedy Oprah Winfrey“Success seems largely a matter of hanging “Never, never, never give up.”on after others have let go.” Sir Winston Churchill William Feather“Success consists of a series of little dailyvictories.” Laddie F. Tyger“In order to succeed, at times you have tomake something from nothing.” Ruth Mickleby-Land“Success isn’t permanent and failure isn’tfatal.” Mike Dikta“The road to success is always underconstruction and full of detours—enjoy theride.” Unknown“A great part of life consists of contemplatingwhat we cannot cure.” Robert Louis Stevenson“The problem is that most people focus ontheir failures rather than their successes. Butthe truth is that most people have manymore successes than failures.” Jack Canfield“The worst bankrupt in the world is the manwho has lost his enthusiasm. Let a man loseeverything else in the world but hisenthusiasm and he will come through againto success.” H. W. Arnold“A man without a smiling face must not openshop.” Chinese proverb