Allie Nimmons Creative is based in South Florida. Currently, I am right in the path of hurricane Irma. In light of Florida’s history with violent hurricanes and the recent devastation in Houston, we are preparing for the worst. Apart from potential physical damage, loss of power and Internet are imminent. Given that our business is pretty much entirely online, this means that we may suffer some pretty intense downtime. Here are 4 ways we intend to prepare, which hopefully can serve as tips for anyone looking to protect their small online business in an emergency such as this.

Follow the news and keep up with the facts

Over the past week, I have been making sure to consistently check the news and online news outlets to stay informed as to when the hurricane will hit my area and how bad it will be. Being prepared, not just physically but mentally, can help prevent damage and loss of business.

Because I know roughly how much time I have with full power and Internet access, I can get as much work done as possible and set up as many automated emails or social media messages as I need to. Making sure you’re abreast of what’s going on can prevent you being taken by surprise.


Set up e-mail responders and reach out to clients

Today is Wednesday. News outlets are saying that the storm will hit Friday or Saturday. I’ll be setting up an email responder for Thursday, informing anyone who emails me that I may not be able to respond due to loss of Internet access because of hurricane Irma. This allows my clients to understand why I may not be able to get back to them and keeps potential clients from completely writing me off when I don’t respond.

Clients with projects currently in motion will get an email directly from me informing them of my situation and rescheduling any deadlines or meetings for the next week. I know that if I email someone and they don’t reply for days on end and I don’t know why, that seriously breaks my trust and belief in them. By notifying my clients beforehand, I can ensure their trust and make them feel like I am making them a top priority.


Protect your tools

If you have any physical items with which you run your business, it’s best to move them out of harms way. For example, my home office is in my guest bedroom in my apartment. My modem sits in the windowsill and my desk sits beside the window. I’ve moved everything in my living room, which will get the least amount of damage if any windows are broken. In a situation like a hurricane, it’s important to protect electronics from water damage as much as possible.

If you have insurance on your computer or any other equipment, double check your policy to make sure that you’re covered in this scenario. Make sure you’re up to date on any payments. On the off chance that your equipment is damaged, you want to be able to bounce back from that.


Make lists

In addition to preparing food, water and supplies for my family, I know that before the hurricane hits, I have to:

  • Move all my electronics and business gear into a safe place
  • Back up all my files from my computer to a safe cloud environment
  • Make sure that once the storm starts, all electronics are off and unplugged so there is no surge damage
  • Set up my automated messages
  • Get as much client work done as possible so I can stay ahead of deadlines
  • Notify my clients of my situation

During the storm itself, there are things I can do to keep my business running in the meantime:

  • Read any business/design/marketing, etc. books that I’ve been putting off
  • Writing blog posts by hand that I can type up and post later
  • Sketch wireframes for website and logo designs that I have on my plate
  • Practice sketching wireframes and logo designs to keep my skills fresh

Depending on your business, there are probably other things you can do the analog/manual way to keep your business going, at least in your head.

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