Pandemic demonstrates need for crisis planning

Frances Padilla

The pandemic has shown Coloradans the importance small businesses play in our local and national economies. It was critical for entrepreneurs to change their business models and pivot overnight to new ways of selling their products and services. 

The U.S. Small Business Administration highlights the resilience of entrepreneurs and renewal of the small business economy as they build back better from the economic crisis brought on by the pandemic.

 Although beating the pandemic is front and center in moving our economy forward, our nation remains vulnerable to a variety of natural disasters, including wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards and drought. History has shown that up to 25 percent of businesses that close because of disasters never reopen. All Colorado businesses should develop crisis preparedness plans that take into consideration what we learned over the last 18 months from the pandemic. 

Here are six simple business strategies a business can use for future crises:

Evaluate exposure. Know your community and the types of disasters most likely to affect your business. Consider your proximity to flood plains, wildfire areas and other hazards. Of course, the COVID 19 pandemic remains the first exposure issue on the list.

Review insurance coverage. Consult your agent to determine whether your coverage is sufficient. You might need separate flood insurance. Check into business interruption insurance, which helps you cover operating expenses if you’re forced to temporarily close.

Review your supply chain. Establish relationships with alternate vendors in case your primary supplier isn’t available. Place occasional orders with them so they’ll regard you as an active customer. Create a contact list for important business contractors and vendors you plan to use in an emergency. Keep this list off-site.

Create a crisis communications plan. At the beginning of the pandemic, many business owners didn’t have contact information for their employees and vendors. Establish an email/Twitter/Facebook alert system, keeping primary and secondary email addresses for your employees, vendors and customers. Provide updates to your customers and the community so they know you’re still in business and in the process of rebuilding following a crisis.

Establish a written chain of command. Let your employees know the emergency chain of command should your business close. Maintain a clear leave and sick day policy during disasters. Have a backup payroll service should your office be destroyed. 

Develop a continuity plan. The plan should state when it will be activated, identify essential business functions and staff to carry out these functions, determine which employees will be considered non-essential versus essential and identify records and documents that must be secured and accessible to perform key functions.  

Frances Padilla is director of the U.S. Small Business Administration Colorado district and oversees agency programs and services across the state. For more information, visit