Throughout the past few years, we’ve learned that businesses of all types must be prepared for the unexpected. We live in an increasingly connected world, where an incident on one side of the globe can cause unimaginable problems for us on the other.

Businesses need to build resilience so they can not only survive but thrive during challenging times. Whether it’s economic downturns, supply chain disruptions, natural disasters or cybersecurity threats, small businesses face a variety of threats that can negatively impact their success and stability. Local business owners can mitigate risks, build resilience and be better prepared to cope with disasters with a proactive approach and a few key strategies.

• Create a Robust Crisis and Continuity Plan: Sit down and identify potential risks and threats that could affect your business and think about how you would manage them. Some aspects to consider are outlining the responsibilities of your team, establishing how to communicate internally and externally, and figuring out how to operate. An effective plan outlines how your business can maintain essential operations during and after a crisis and can include ways to manage resources, secure an alternative workspace and restore normal operations as quickly as possible. Regularly reviewing and updating this plan ensures that it remains relevant and practical.

• Explore Adding Variety to Your Revenue and Supply Streams: When the pandemic hit, businesses like restaurants had to switch from sit-down locations to delivery and takeout quickly. It is essential for business owners to diversify revenue streams and suppliers to reduce vulnerability to fluctuations and disruptions. Identify new products and services you can offer. Identify multiple suppliers you could work with to get the materials or products you need in case one suddenly can’t meet your needs.

• Build Strong Community Relationships: A local business thrives when supported by a strong network of customers and community partners. Small businesses need to participate in community events, partner with other businesses, and support local initiatives to establish strong connections that can provide them with support in difficult times.

• Make Employee Training a Priority: Employees can be one of your most valuable assets during times of crisis. Help them develop their skills and knowledge so they can step up and respond effectively to emergencies with regular training and exposure to different business functions. Creating a culture of preparedness encourages employees to take responsibility for crisis management, but it also helps them contribute to the company’s success every day.

• Review Your Insurance Coverage: Insurance coverage is crucial to protecting a local business. You should review policies regularly to ensure adequate coverage for various scenarios, including property damage, business interruption and liability.

• Create a Financial Buffer: Most of us work on very slim margins, but creating an emergency fund can provide much-needed stability when times are bad. The fund, separate from regular business accounts, can help weather unexpected expenses and revenue losses by putting aside a little each month.

With these strategies, local businesses can build the resilience and adaptability they need to withstand the inevitable storms they will face. By preparing for the worst, business owners can safeguard their companies and contribute to their communities’ long-term growth and prosperity.