Diversifying your business isn’t something that you can do overnight, but as you develop long-term plans, consider how you can make your business stronger.

Diversify Operations

After a disaster, your customer base may change. This is especially true if you are a retailer with a localized clientele. Neighborhoods often change drastically after a disaster. Residents move away, especially in areas with a high rental rate. New residents move in, often from different income levels, age ranges or ethnic groups than previous residents. They may not need the goods or services that you provide. Even if your customer base stays the same, they may not have the income to shop at your business for several months after the disaster. Could you adapt your product or service to something that is needed after a disaster? For example, a shoe store might focus their stock on protective equipment like boots and work gloves to help customers with clean up after a disaster.

Diversify Suppliers

There are many benefits to using local suppliers: transportation costs are lower, you can develop close relationships, and you are contributing to the local economy. However, a disaster that affects your business is also likely to affect your local suppliers. Suppliers that have multiple locations around the region or around the country are more likely to be able to continue operations in the immediate aftermath of a disaster. Talk to your suppliers about their business continuity plan. Don’t let your business fail because others have failed to plan. Consider clauses in supplier contracts that will release you in the event of a disaster.

Diversify Customers

Brainstorm potential customers for your product or service. Think about different geographic markets, demographics, even how your product or service might be used differently. How could you market your product differently to appeal to a different audience? Write down every possibility, even those that don’t seem realistic at the moment.

In the aftermath of a disaster, you will have to make many hard decisions, often under the worst possible conditions. Record the ideas that you come up with now to use as contingency plans after an emergency event and as a guide for future development of your business.