Managing Your Business in Times of Crisis


California is home to over 4.2 million small businesses, according to the United States Census Bureau. As we continue to recognize Wildfire Awareness Month, now is a great time to develop a plan and gather the necessary resources to enhance your small business’s emergency resilience. Disasters can occur at any moment, whether they are natural events like hurricanes and earthquakes or human-made crises such as cyberattacks or power outages. The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) is committed to helping you prepare your business and employees for the unexpected.

Identify Potential Threats

Begin by identifying the types of emergencies that could affect your business. Consider natural disasters common to your area, such as floods, earthquakes, hurricanes or wildfires. Also, think about human-caused events like fires, cyberattacks and supply chain disruptions.

Evaluate Impact

Assess how each potential threat could impact your business operations. Which areas of your business are most vulnerable? Understanding the potential impact helps prioritize your preparedness efforts.

Create a Business Continuity Plan (BCP)

A Business Continuity Plan outlines how your business will continue operating during and after a disaster. It should include:

  • Key Roles and Responsibilities: Designate a team responsible for implementing the BCP. Ensure all employees know their roles in an emergency.
  • Communication Strategy: Develop a communication plan for notifying employees, customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders about the situation and ongoing updates.
  • Operational Procedures: Detail procedures for maintaining essential functions. Include plans for remote work if necessary.
  • Data Backup and Recovery: Ensure all critical data is backed up regularly and stored off-site or in the cloud.

Emergency Response Plan

This plan focuses on the immediate response to an emergency. It should cover:

  • Evacuation Routes and Assembly Points: Clearly mark and communicate these to all employees.
  • Emergency Contacts: Maintain an updated list of contacts, including local emergency services, utility companies, and key personnel.
  • First Aid and Safety Supplies: Ensure your workplace is stocked with necessary supplies and that employees know their locations.

Train Your Team

Regularly train your employees on emergency procedures. Conduct drills to practice evacuation routes, communication protocols and other critical actions. Training ensures that everyone knows what to do and can act quickly and effectively during an actual emergency.

Physical Safety Measures

Install safety equipment such as fire extinguishers, smoke detectors and emergency lighting. Ensure that your building complies with safety regulations and that exits are easily accessible.

IT and Data Security

Invest in robust cybersecurity measures to protect against cyber threats. Use firewalls, antivirus software and encryption to safeguard your data. Regularly update your systems and conduct security audits.

Review Insurance Policies

Ensure your business has adequate insurance coverage for various types of emergencies. This might include property insurance, business interruption insurance, and cyber insurance.

Financial Reserves

Maintain an emergency fund to cover unexpected expenses. This reserve can help keep your business afloat during disruptions and recovery periods.

Stay Informed and Updated

Monitor news and weather reports for any potential threats. Sign up for emergency alerts at Staying informed allows you to act quickly and effectively.


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Prepare for emergencies | U.S. Small Business Administration (