The devastation that Hurricane Harvey has left on south Texas has not gone unnoticed in the eyes and hearts of everyone. Along with the fires on the west coast, and now Irma hitting Florida.
It particularly has hurt small business owners, many of whom no longer have their business. In the blink of an eye it was all taken from them. We share this article, not as a way to capitalize on the Harvey wave, but to shed light on some real-life actions entrepreneurs can take to minimize these harmful impacts devastations in the future.
Take these action items into mind, whether you live in a “hurricane” location or not. Destruction, devastation, death, divorce, disability. All of this can happen to you no matter where you live. Make sure you’re (somewhat) prepared.
#1 Cloud/Off-Site Back Ups
For photographers, and other small business owners, we primarily run our businesses with technology so the need for back-ups is ever present. Backups include computer hard drives ( I love this one), cloud (Dropbox, Crashplan) and other off-site backups. Ensure that you have a routine backup going. I recommend a constant backup such as through Crashplan or Backblaze, as well as a Dropbox that you can save directly to or drag into on a routine basis.
Items to ensure you’ve backed up:
- Client information
- Business legal documents (formation certificates, operating agreements, tax permits)
- Insurance policies
- Marketing copy
#2 Contingency Plan
What is your plan when disaster hits?
The hope is that you’ll have all sensitive information accessible via cloud/off-site backups (see #1) and have a designated individual to make contact to clients if you are unable to do so. Obviously, we’re not saying you need to get in contact with a client about a session if clearly a hurricane is at your door and you’re evacuating…but there is a point where you need to reach out and talk to them. Have a system set up to ensure that you have all contact information backed-up and accessible.
In the alternative, what if something happens to you and your clients are awaiting your services – who is your designated individual to reach out on your behalf?
What about needing to finish out business and wrap in business in case of your death? Have you designated this person and left behind the proper directions and legal documents?
Unfortunately, often times this is not the case. Many don’t go into business thinking about the worst – beyond potentially dropping a lens or a camera body being stolen. The reality is life exists. We’ve seen this recently and we never know when life will happen..because…it does.
#3 Savings Line Item in Budget
Are you financially prepared to sustain your business costs if disaster strikes and unable to take on clients or fulfill existing contracts? The bills needed for your business to be run, as well as any income your family depends on, do not cease simply because disaster has struck.
If disaster does happen – try reaching out to the business requesting your bill payment – they may offer grace and work with with you. But don’t count on this.
Instead, reach in to the REAL emergency savings line item you have in your budget. Not the “rainy day fund” that many small business owners stick into their budget but use when they get the impulse to upgrade their camera body or laptop. We’re not talking umbrella-rainy day, but more of a potential-evacuation-rainy-day.
If you’re struggling with planning and costs – you may want to check out Biz-Revamp webcourse next time it opens for enrollment!
#4 Insurance Policies
This one sounds obvious, but for many, they over look this in business. Ensure that you have all property insured properly, including camera equipment, lenses, laptops, and your studio (if applicable).
Another type of insurance to consider – disability. This is discussed in length in OhSnap Kit above, but for a cliff notes – if your family depends on your income and you’re suddenly ill or disabled and unable to work – now what? Insurance policies are available to help.
TheLawTog is a fan of Hill & Usher insurance for photographers!
#5 Take inventory
Take inventory of all of your business property – technically, you should have this listed for your business insurance and assets for local government, however, having all serial numbers, make, model and condition will help assist in recovery and replacement after disaster.
Bonus tip: If you want your clients to be understanding for you in time of disaster – consider doing the same for them.
This isn’t an all inclusive list – this is just enough to get you started on the path of protecting your business and income should disaster strike.
Have more insight to add? Join our group and let us know!
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