After the I-85 collapse last month I began thinking about how lack of planning is causing a big headache for Atlanta commuters. Many funny cartoons and videos have been making the rounds on social media and it is good for a quick laugh. But long term the implications of not having a risk management plan in place will cause major problems for Atlanta’s commuters for months.
Because my area of interest and focus is small business, I began to think about what type of unforeseen everyday disasters could befall a small business owner and the risk mitigation that could be put in place to help if/when disaster strikes. Below are six types of risks a small business owner can face every day that quickly came mind:
Disability or death of a business partner
Do you have adequate insurance to cover the loss of a key employee? What if you need to buy them out in order to keep your business going? Key man insurance coverage may be what you need.
Natural disaster that closes down your business
Do you have insurance that will cover the cost of repairing your business? Do you have business interruption insurance that will keep you solvent while your business is shut down? Never heard of business interruption insurance? Talk to your insurance agent.
Key supplier going out of business
If the one and only supplier of a key component of your product or service goes out of business, do you have another supplier you can turn to? It is also important to make sure that your suppliers are not located in the same region. What if a natural disaster strikes and your two suppliers are both put out of business.
Are you operating your business as a sole proprietor? In the short term that may seem like an easy alternative to filing your business as a corporation (LLC or S-corp) but you are potentially putting all your personal assets at risk. Registering as an LLC has become very simple, both from a legal and tax standpoint. If you are not sure which legal entity is best for you, talk to an attorney or CPA.
Customer identity theft
Is your business taking chip enabled credit cards? Are you in compliance with your merchant agreements? If your POS is hacked, or credit card theft happens, as a business owner you are financially responsible for any losses. Make sure you are operating within PCI compliance. Not sure what that is? Contact your merchant services provider.
Will you be able to handle a loss of sales revenue if the road in front of your business is under construction all summer long? What about if you are a business that relies on drive by traffic? Business interruption insurance could help you through a loss of sales. Don’t know what that is? Contact your commercial insurance provider.
These are just a handful of everyday disasters could put a small business owner into bankruptcy. For more information on risk mitigation, the SBA offers a guide, SBA Risk Management for Small Business, that can help a business owner analyze threats and put contingency plans into place.
If you need Strategic Planning assistance, contact your local Small Business Development Center for no-cost, confidential consulting and low cost training programs.
(Source: Laura Katz, Area Director, UGA SBDC)