The Importance of Disaster Preparedness for a Small Business

Any business, whether small or big, faces many challenges and some of the biggest challenges are in the shape of disasters, especially the natural ones. It does not matter which part of the world your business operates in; natural disasters are possible in every part of the planet. Floods, storms, hurricanes, earthquakes, etc. are among the most common types of natural disasters. This is why it is highly recommended that you have the right preparation for a natural disaster. According to Red Cross, major natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods are so damaging for small businesses that 40% of those that get hit by one of these shut down forever.

So, what is the importance of preparing for disasters for small businesses?

A Professional Impression

Disaster preparedness and disaster recovery plans are often associated with large enterprises and organizations. But are small businesses protected from disasters? Your small business needs a disaster plan just as much as any big business out there. Having a disaster plan integrated into your system and documented gives off a very professional impression of your business. When you become a big business, you can get audited for a hundred different things. Furthermore, your employees will also be happy that they are working with a company that thinks long-term.

Prevention of Various Disasters

While there is nothing much that can be done about natural disasters, you can do something about disasters caused by humans and their errors. A human can cause damage to your property on purpose as a result of jealousy, reaction to some unfair treatment or as a bad business tactic. When you have the right equipment and system in place, it is difficult to cause such damage to the business. In most cases, human-made disasters are in the form of a fire that can burn all the important documents for a company and any systems that store valuable customer information.

Safety of Employees

Preparing for a disaster does not always mean you have to maintain business continuity. In fact, another important part of disaster preparedness is the safety of your employees. At times, you can’t instantly tell what might go wrong. A storm or hurricane can cause damage to electric poles and wires. If not protected properly, this damage can result in the deaths of your employees. Furthermore, when you are not prepared to face a flood, you might end up calling your employees to work and getting their vehicles damaged.

Business Continuity

One of the reasons to be prepared for disasters is to maintain business continuity. If you reside in a region where certain types of natural disasters are common, you have to prepare for these first and then for other types of disasters. For example, a business in Japan will have to prepare for an earthquake and the Tsunami. In some parts of America, there are more tornadoes every year than there are storms in the entire country. When you have a plan for such disasters, you can ensure the continuity of your business even when the disaster strikes.

Continuing business operations can be as easy as asking your employees to work from home. To make this possible, you might want to have all your data and important business applications moved to cloud, so when your company servers are down, you can ask your employees to work. Another important aspect of continuing your business despite great disasters is backing up your data. When it comes to backup, you can’t back up the data in one location only. The idea is to back up your business data every day and move the backup to another location. If your budget allows, you can back up the data in even more locations than two.

Quick Response

An important aspect of disaster preparedness is to share this knowledge with your employees. You also have to update them with any changes you make to your disaster preparedness and recovery plan. For example, if a sudden fire breaks out inside your business premises, your employees must know what the first course of action has to be. You should also ask your employees to have all the important business applications, software tools, etc. installed on their devices if your response to a disaster is asking them to work from home. When your employees know exactly what to do in the case of a disaster, they can get a response to a bad situation instantly, so you face virtually no downtime.

Cost-efficiency

Disaster preparedness and recovery are not just about being ready to handle a disastrous situation. In fact, it is also about being able to operate the business and recover business operations after a disaster hits with as minimum resources as possible. A business without a disaster plan can also recover from a disaster. However, the huge difference here is that the unprepared business will have to spend a lot of money and resources to get back on its feet whereas a business with a plan will continue its operations with minimum efforts.

Improved B2B Relations

It is not just your customers but also your business partners that get affected when your business shuts down temporarily due to a disaster. They might be relying on you for their mission-critical processes, and your absence can cause them to either stop their operations or find another partner to make things work instantly. On the other hand, if your business is still running despite getting hit by a disaster, your business partners will take a very positive impression of you. This is going to help you retain your business partners as they can now trust your professionalism and seriousness with business.

Conclusion

To prepare for disasters, the first thing you have to do is change your mind about the whole situation. Many small business owners think that things like disaster plans are better suited for large enterprises or when a business has grown big enough to have multiple branches. What they don’t realize is that it is much easier to recover from a disaster when you have multiple locations than it is when you have only one location. So, start assessing your risks today, create a sound communication plan and document your disaster preparation plan today.

How to Start a Plumbing Business

So, you want to start a plumbing business. This could be a terrific decision, or, it could be the worst idea ever. Starting a plumbing business, or any business really, involves a certain amount of structured thinking to put everything in place, and making sure that you have thought of everything. By following this strategy planning process, you will have covered all the important aspects of getting your planning and strategy in the right place, and this will make the starting of your own plumbing business some 450% more successful.

The Strategy Required to Start Any Business

Starting a plumbing business, a bakery, or a high-tech company all requires the same basic thinking strategy. To remember it best, use the EASI acronym. In this case, E stands for emotion, A for achieving a win, S for simple and straightforward and I for the implementation.

Everybody wanting to start a business should be aware that it is going to involve plenty of challenges, hardships, stress, worry, and a multitude of other issues. The process of starting a business has often been likened to jumping off a cliff, and building an aeroplane on the way down. It will mean sleepless nights, long working hours and the unwavering support of family and friends around you. This is real, and the reason so many start-up businesses fail.

The first step, therefore, is to examine the reasons that you want to start the business in the first place. This involves an examination of the emotions, or feeling behind the rationale of starting your own plumbing business. Everyone will have their own reasons for wanting to start their business. It may be as a last resort as they are unable to find employment in the field, it may be that they hate having a boss, it may be that they want to become extraordinarily wealthy. Whatever the reason, it is essential that the owners of the business, if there are more than one, are aware of the strength of their emotions regarding the venture. This will determine the power of the motivation, the real forces behind the venture, and, with the aid of a skilled consultant, allow the prospective business owners to determine if their vessel will survive the storms on the ocean, or if there needs to be some additional emotional management included.

The second item speaks to the vision, or goal of the organisation. A prospective plumbing business may have as its goal to be a loss leader and therefore a tax write-off. It may be that achieving a win with the business would be familial survival, or putting children through school. Either way, all the owners need to be able, collaboratively, to understand what the goal is and to have a combined vision of the business that everyone can buy into. Without this shared vision, any subsequent planning and strategizing will ultimately be negated and sporadic, with everyone involved having different goals and aims, instead of pulling together in the right direction.

Keep Things Simple and Straightforward

It does not take any real skill to make things more complex. The real genius in any situation is to make things more simple. This line of thinking is propagated by all the top entrepreneurs such as Richard Branson, Bill Gates, and Elon Musk. Albert Einstein often used to say that if you couldn’t explain a thing to a six-year-old, you didn’t understand it yourself. In light of this strategic thinking, the next piece of advice is to keep all your plans and strategies simple and straightforward. Set a goal that everyone involved, all the stakeholders, can buy into. See where you currently are, and plan a way to get to that goal that all concerned can understand, appreciate, and take ownership of.

The final step in setting up a new plumbing business is to implement the strategy. Without a rigorous implementation strategy and plan, all the goal-setting and personal examination of business vision and motivation will just become a distant wish. Implementation plans fall into five basic categories; overall business strategy, financial planning, human resources and communications, sales and marketing, and project management. All businesses must be able to conduct planning with respect to these five regions of business expertise in order to be successful.

Implementing Your Plumbing Business Strategy

The first step in initiating the plan within all the five sectors that need examination is to complete a real, practical, and genuine business plan. Having gone through the initial strategic thinking process as outlined above, compiling an overall business plan should be relatively easy. Nevertheless, failing to spend sufficient time aligning a business plan to the strategy will mean that the business is also likely to fail, because one of the well-known factors in determining business success is that more than 80% of successful businesses have determined their overall strategy in detail, aligned the business plan, gone into each aspect of the business plan in detail, and repeat this strategic thinking process regularly amongst all the stakeholders.

Once the business plan has been compiled in detail, with all the necessary inputs being not only realistic but pragmatic as well, then the detailed considerations in each of the five business aspects can begin. This should dovetail with the business plan, but expand on the details simply stated in the plan to some extent. In the case of a plumbing business as we are considering here, some of the parameters in these five aspects of the business will be examined. Not in an attempt to intimidate any prospective plumbing entrepreneurs, but rather in an attempt to illustrate the importance of this strategic thinking process, and the reasons why it should be conducted in detail, and why utilising effective and experienced business consultants will not only increase the chances of success, but probably save substantial money in the medium to long term.

Five Business Areas to Conduct Planning

These five business areas, as related to a plumbing business, are strategy, financial, sales and marketing, human resources and communications, and projects. Overall strategy has been discussed in some detail, and following the above instructions will guarantee success in this regard.

The financial planning aspect when starting a plumbing business is of crucial importance. A detailed understanding of potential income, and expenditures related to the running of the business need to be examined. Whereas these are obviously tied in the overall strategy, the practical aspects of a plumbing business will need to be added by the stakeholders, using their experience and knowledge of the field. Office premises, the maintenance of stock and supplies, transport, and the ability to survive until the income exceeds the costs needs to be determined. All potential financial considerations, such as stakeholder input, the possibility of generating loans and financial support and receiving up-front payments all need to be planned in great detail.

Income of a plumbing business is directly related to the amount of work undertaken and the charges levied on this work. In an overall sense, the amount of income must exceed the costs of the business, and the aim of any sales and marketing plan is to ensure that this is, in fact, the case. With the advent of social media and the internet, the avenues available to market a business have increased exponentially. The starting point for any plumbing business, like any service related business, is to determine in as much detail as possible who exactly the people are that would be providing the business with revenue. These people, as a whole, are called the buying persona of the business. A plumbing business may, for instance, decide to stay small and provide after-hours services to family and friends, or it may target large corporate projects and tenders. Or anything in between. The better any prospective plumbing organisation understands exactly the behaviour, like, needs, wants, and aims of their prospective market the better they will fare. The example here is that a plumber who caters to the lower end of the economic market would use more print media and posters to advertise the business, while a plumber catering to an upper market segment may elect to use social media more since richer people have smartphones and will be reachable using digital platforms.

Human resources and communications requires detailed planning on its own too. Depending on the structure of the plumbing organisation, and their unique selling points, there may be a customer service department required, or a marketing department if this is the determining factor of achieving business. Planning and structuring the organisation accordingly will depend on the overall aims and vision, but will need to take the entire business plan into consideration.

Plumbing services generally will require on-site operations and the effective management of these operations as individual projects. Good project management is key to any service industry and the basic principles of project management is going to be essential. Once again, though, project management should not be seen as a complex and difficult issue, but rather a simplified and straightforward way of dealing, and communicating with all the stakeholders involved in every project.

The Required Starting Blocks of a Plumbing Business

These steps, as outlined above, if conducted thoroughly and efficiently, with the businesses core vision in mind and a positive collaborative mindset as a starting point, will ensure that the business has a better than 80% chance of success. However, as stated numerous times during this discussion piece, this is not a 5-minute exercise. This is a detailed strategic thinking process that will require honesty and commitment. There are certain things, therefore, that should be borne in mind before even embarking on the strategy process.

The first is an audit of the emotional intelligence of the stakeholders in the plumbing business. Like any service industry, plumbing involves hard work and much on-site work where things can easily go wrong. A high emotional intelligence score amongst the business owners is the best possible indicator of success. Emotional intelligence means being able to cope and manage the stresses and challenges involved, it means training your mind to find solutions in the midst of chaos happening all around you, and it means being able to be an effective leadership team who can steer a business through uncertain times. On the other hand, it does not mean someone who succumbs to the influences of anger or vindictiveness. Emotional intelligence can be learned and improved upon, so it certainly can be developed, but it is key that this quality be determined before initiating any business.

Secondly, there needs to be an understanding that knowledge is vital. The prognosis for a baker who wakes up one morning and sees a plumber friend making lots of money and then decides to start a plumbing business is unfortunately not very good. Plumbing, in order to be successful, needs to be done well. In a highly competitive business environment such as there is today all over the world, any business needs to actually be good at their job to be successful. It is for this reason that it is a prerequisite of starting a plumbing business that the stakeholders at the very least have access to high quality plumbing services. This includes knowing all aspects of the work, the market potential, and the survival rates of their competition. Without this core knowledge, no matter how good the strategizing process and the plans that come out of it, there is no chance of success.

Hiring a Business Coach That Facilitates Substantial Growth

Running any business alone can be self-fulfilling for every entrepreneur but equally as tough and impossible to successfully manage. With this in mind, hiring a business coach is always a smart move because the opinion of an expert enables and facilitates businesses to reach their full potential. The business coaching industry in the US has grown in recent decades to a worth of over $12 billion highlighting its impact and the need to find the best business coach for your business so as to unlock maximum potential.

Even the best business coaches require the services of other business coaches to effectively understand, explore and take advantage of the many specifics in their individual business set ups.

Hiring a qualified coach can improve leadership and facilitate expansion in domains of fundraising and project management. However, there exist many important considerations in finding the best or ideal coach for your business. These considerations include;

Cost

Cost is a very important consideration in the selection of an ideal business coach and it most often depends on factors like specialty, of expertise and location. Although experts are usually very expensive, it’s possible to find affordable cost effective coaches. For and other social businesses, investing time and effort could easily find low pay experts who could offer coaching services as support of causes. Before even setting out in search of a coach, it’s necessary to study your budget and clearly allocate what can be used for coaching services so as to prevent over-extension into debt.

Best Business Fit

When sampling potential coaches for any business, key to make sure those with the best fit for your business are the target. For example, hiring an ideal non-profit coach would entail narrowing to affordable coaches in the social business domain with proven track records of success. This can be assisted by personal and social feedback recommendations in combination with actual discussions with these potential coaches.

Possible Time Engagement with Coach

This is a slightly complicated consideration when looking at getting a business coach because the dedicated time engagements are usually very much dependent on expertise, and location. However, ensuring the arrangement of quality and long enough time with your coach increases the effectiveness of the relationship. Furthermore, time for meetings and follow up work must be set aside to make the best out of the coaching.

Preparedness for Change

In order to set up for maximum benefits from engagement with a business coach, it is essential to be prepared for significant changes. This is the productivity of the relationship doesn’t only depend on the quality of advice from the coach but also on the preparedness of the management to listen and make changes with respect to this.

Hiring a social business coach can give and other social entrepreneurs the extra edge required for substantial growth, but their services would have to be cost effective, best fitting, and available.Their advice will also need to be and implemented for results to be eminent.

The many benefits associated with hiring the ideal business coach can be summarized under the following points;

Extra, Required Motivation

The one great quality almost every business coach will offer is relentless motivation and getting business owners unstuck when stepping into their own way. No matter the self-motivation possessed by the owner of any business, moments arrive when it’s almost impossible to apply this self-motivation. In times like this, an all-important push to recovery from a professional is required even if it’s simply in the form of confirming something already in your mind and plans.

Unafraid with Unbiased Opinion

A very important asset carried by business coaches is the ability to always provide unbiased opinions that are often absent in the management setting of many businesses. Furthermore, not being afraid to offer correction and confrontation to founders is very beneficial to every business as it often leads to solutions that others close to the business would have missed.

Stepping Outside Comfort Zones

In the absence of a business coach, it is very easy for business introvert managements to become overly comfortable and engulfed in their own ideas and goals limiting for expansion. Seasoned business coaches will encourage adventure and the trying out of new things that could be of help for your business and also curb over eagerness for extrovert entrepreneurs that could end up with being caught ruts. Moving out of your comfort zones with encouragement from your business coach breeds confidence which is usually translated to the achievement of very big goals.

Support in the Identification of Strengths and Weaknesses

An experienced business coach offers the capability of identifying patterns that assist in the discovery and exploitation of your strengths while taking note and addressing weaknesses. The outside perspective of a business coach goes far beyond sorting likes and dislikes but to the extent of uncovering useful hidden talents, and potential.

Increased Focus on Ideas and Business Needs

Hiring enhance creativity as they present increased opportunities to brainstorm ideas together fine tuning them with almost never leaving the business. Also, they ensure focus isn’t lost from the business goals employees, clients or family. Business coaches ensure priority remains on the business without sacrifice of other parts of life such as health which are important to successfully integrate for guaranteed success.

Goals Management and Accountability

Audacious goals are always well understood by coaches and they collaborate to enable realization. Managing business goals though isn’t a quality possessed by many entrepreneurs. With the help of coaches, there is understanding of how classification and follow up can be set up to monitor progress with respect to goals.