What Businesses Can Learn from Natural Disasters

Wow, been a tough week for the world, Iran had a terrible earthquake yesterday which left many dead, my prayers are with those injured or mourning loved ones as well. 

In business, several disasters can occur – the market can change drastically and put you out of business eg. nobody rents tapes anymore; a new low-cost competitor can come in and take a chunk of your market share (happening right now in Barbados with a new internet service provider on the scene), and many more disasters lurking around the corner. But by looking at natural disasters, you can lean a few things about how to prevent and deal with those at your company level:

  • This how you currently monitor your market (image from google)

    This how you currently monitor your market
    (image from google)

    The Importance of Monitoring: Earthquakes, Floods and Storms are all pretty sudden occurances but there are always signs, no matter how small. This is why there are always teams in place monitoring the changes in the weather patterns, seismic activity and any other possible indicator. It is just as important for you to monitor the changes in your business environment – keep an eye on those price changes even if by 1 cent, monitor the human resource climate in your office, keep up with your customers’ feelings. These all seem like obvious things to watch but businesses often get complacent and sloppy with their monitoring and then are caught unawares.

  • (image from google)

    (image from google)

    Contingency/Emergency Plans are a Must: I would expect that at your workplace there is a clearly detailed plan for what to do when a fire occurs, everyone knows to exit the building immediately and where to assemble. Fire extinguishers are present all around, but where are your figurative fire extinguishers? What’s your plan for when that hot new entrant lands on the market? If the price of oil suddenly goes up by $20 a barrel, do you know what you have to do to stay in business? What if some new anti-whatever-you-sell campaign lands on facebook – do you have any idea where to begin with a counter? Let’s bring it closer to home, if your product suddenly had mass failures and returns, or mass negative reviews in the case of items you can’t return like a book, what’s your plan?

  • Keep the Public Updated: TV and radio stations as well as newspapers carry great coverage of these unfortunate incidents. The public is updated every hour on the hour on the latest developments, how to proceed, and where help can be found. The same with your business, you need to keep your public updated on your own “disaster”. What’s the return policy on the item, is there a refund? Are maintenance technicians working on the problem, how long will the outage last? Who’s available to talk to about it?

Natural Disasters and Business disasters can strike at any time, make sure you’re prepared for both. What do a hurricane and a failed business have in common? Each can cost you your house! So stop being lazy on monitoring the market, make contingency plans and keep your public updated (even without the disaster).

What lessons have you learnt from your business or personal disasters? Let me know in the comments and I’ll see you next Tuesday!

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