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A Lesson in Emergency Planning for Entrepreneurs

March 7, 2018

Inspiration and Wednesday Wisdom for Women Entrepreneurs and Small Businesses

Winding down the back Pennsylvania road we witnessed half fallen trees hanging on electrical wires almost low enough to touch our car roof. We saw half sunken cars in ditches on the side of the road. We heard radio reports of eight hour backups on the major highway. Just like Superman and Wonder Woman, my husband and I jumped into our cars at 5 a.m. Saturday morning to rescue our son stuck in a Greyhound bus in the “Bombogenesis” in lower Pennsylvania. After relentlessly trying to get a hold of Greyhound Bus in all parts of the state the night before, we gave up and decided to go get him or he’d be stuck on the bus forever.

Fortune was on our side in a number of ways. Our son’s AT&T cell phone was still in service so we could communicate with him although the Verizon phones on the bus weren’t working because a tower had gone down. He was safe in a warm bus which luckily got off the highway and parked overnight in a Loew’s parking lot next to a restaurant so he had cover, a bathroom and food. Although he is 22 years old, older women on the bus befriended him to make sure he was fine. It felt like a miracle to see his exhausted face and watch him walk across the parking lot with suitcase in hand. His hug was strong and long as he whispered in my ear, “Thank you Mom for coming to get me.”

As we drove him back to New York City, we talked about the pros and cons of emergency planning that encompassed the experience. The wisdom was too pertinent to not share with women entrepreneurs and small business owners today:

* Unlike Greyhound Bus Line, make sure you have adequate staff on call to answer questions if an business emergency occurs that your customers need answers to immediately. We might not like planning for emergencies but we need to because we owe it to our customers.

* Communication is vital in an emergency. Make sure you know how you would communicate with customers, vendors, family and others if your company experiences an emergency. If my son had a Verizon phone, we would have been out of luck talking to him because the Verizon cell tower was blown over. Double check your phone service emergency systems with your provider.

* Be level headed when emergency decisions have to be made. Take the emotion out of decision making and replace it with logical thinking. My husband and I could have jumped in the car Friday night to try to reach our son but realized we could put ourselves in danger by doing so. He was safe until morning so we knew we could wait through a sleepless night.

Today’s Wednesday Wisdom is to encourage you to set a date on your calendar to go through potential emergency situations that could arise in your business. Whether it’s a snow or rain storm damaging your roof, loss of electricity and no access to customer files or the loss of communication with your phone, a plan should be in place so you know what to do when the time arises.

It is not pessimistic to plan for worse case scenarios in business; it is smart and in the end will bring you clarity and fast decision making.

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