Like many Californians, I often wonder when the next natural disaster will occur that can topple our status quo. As school children, we were trained to duck and cover for potential earthquakes. In recent years, raging wildfires have taken center stage. Our local and state government agencies encourage us to have an emergency preparedness plan—and some proactive families will actually heed the warnings and at a minimum create a stockpile of water, rations, flashlights, and a predesignated place to meet if you become separated from your loved ones.

Your business should also have an emergency preparedness plan. Who would have thought that, in addition to our required OSHA Injury Illness Prevention Plan (where we inform our staff what to do if there is a fire, injury, or robbery), we would have to create a strategy for an invisible enemy that could be far more deadly, like a simple virus!

COVID-19 has shone a light on the strengths and weaknesses of our business and family structures. Everyone has been affected one way or another, and we may expect to see the continued aftermath for years to come. We can learn from our experiences over the past year-and-a-half and look for ways to mitigate our losses. This can be done using a well-known tool called a S.W.O.T Analysis to review your business’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.

What are My Business’s Strengths?

These are things that will help your business weather a storm, such as a surplus of 6 months of operating capital, being home-based and not having a large monthly overhead, or developing relationships with your vendors.

What Are My Business’s Weaknesses?

Determine what are the weak links in your business that could cause the dam to break, such as a lack or fear of technology or not developing 2nd-in-command leadership that can carry operations on if you are injured.

What the Opportunities My Business Can Go After?

How can you pivot your business to meet the needs of the new environment and your consumers? What aid is available from government sources during and after a disaster?

What are the Threats to My Business?

These are outside dangers that could impact your business such as ever-changing COVID-19 Safe-at-Home restrictions, inability to find supplies, price increases, or the lack of willing employees to work.

One of the key components of your business preparedness plan—whether it is a start-up plan, pivot plan, or disaster plan—should be to connect with a local Small Business Development Center (SBDC). These are extensions of the Small Business Administration. The SBDC program is nationwide, with over 1,000 locations to help stimulate economic growth through business development. The centers provide business consulting, training, and resources to small businesses through funding, business planning, management, and marketing—no cost, no catch. If you need help with your preparedness or post-COVID-19 plan, contact your local SBDC center. You can locate your closest center by visiting America’s SBDC on the web.

About the Author
Celeste Young-Ramos

Celeste Young-Ramos, PHR-Ca, has been a restaurant owner, Regional Training Manager, and Domestic and International Franchise Business Consultant for Denny’s Inc., where she was responsible for operations and training for 50 restaurants in greater Los Angeles, New Zealand, Hawaii, and Guam. She is an HRCI-Certified Human Resources Professional and certified ServSafe Food Safety Instructor and Proctor. As Human Resources and Restaurant Advisor for the Pacific Coast Regional SBDC and through her own firm, Restaurant Success Center, Celeste has provided business planning, start-up support, and operations improvements for hundreds of independent and franchise restaurants, food trucks, cottage food operations, and street vendors across Los Angeles County.