A disaster doesn’t have to affect your building to have a major impact on your business. Impacts on customers, suppliers, or the transportation routes that connect you to them can cause long-lasting disruption even if the disaster is in another part of the country or the world.

Look for ways to diversify your:

  • Product Lines—so you are not dependent on a narrow part of the market. You might do this by adding product lines that are related to what you already sell, or by adding products that are unrelated, but use the production or marketing methods that you are already using.

  • Customer Base—so you don’t go out of business if an important customer does. Look at emerging trends in the community or business environment. Disasters typically accelerate changes that are already underway (social, economic, political, demographic). Look for ways that your products or services could be marketed to a different customer base.

  • Supply Lines—so you can continue to get materials and supplies to stock your inventory. Identify alternate suppliers that could provide what you need if your current suppliers can’t deliver. Ask your suppliers about their continuity of operations plans. Make sure supplier contracts have clauses that will release you if the supplier is unable to provide goods or services because of a disaster. If you are a major customer, you might also request a clause stating that you will get priority service if their goods are greatly in demand after a disaster.

  • Locations—gives you options for continued operations if just one location affected by disaster. This includes your own facility locations, those of your suppliers and the location of your customer base. Consider multiple locations for storage and operations. If you do business in an area affected by hurricanes, you will increase the risk of your business being impacted if all of your customers and suppliers are also in hurricane-prone areas.