Hurricane Irma has left the state of Florida in recovery mode. The record breaking size of the storm and initial predictions had us all on edge. But we are all very grateful that damage, for the most part is repairable.
It has been a tough week, to say the least. Before I put it behind us, I’d like to share a few big lessons I learned that apply both to life and to business.
1. People First
Models started to show it would hit out area and it kept gaining strength, about 10 days early. My top priority became to make sure my family would be safe, as well as my team and their families. Secondly, that our client’s work would be fulfilled without interruption.
It is safe to say that most business owners in the area had the same thoughts.
Your employees are your business family.
I’m a big fan of Sr. Richard Branson and his philosophy in business. He advocates that taking care of your staff is key to success in business. I believe this to be true.
Treat your staff well. Encourage them to develop their potential. Provide education and growth opportunities. This will ensure that your business will have a solid foundation in which to scale.
Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.
– Sr. Richard Branson
2. Preparation is Critical
Last year it was hurricane Mathew. It ended up making a turn away from us at the very last minute, with little impact to our area. But we had to prepare for a category 4 hurricane. It had been 10 years since the last major one hit us, so I couldn’t remember where anything hurricane related was. It was very stressful. I was waking up in the middle of the night thinking of random things I had to remember. And frantically running from store to store to find supplies.
We were blessed it barely touched us, so it ended up feeling like a drill of sorts. After it passed, I prepared an emergency kit. I also made it a point to never run out of canned goods, which I don’t consume much of. So this time it was far less stressful to get everything ready.
Similarly, in business, you must prepare for emergencies, for a minimal business interruption. You must be covered by insurance for something major, such as a fire or a flood. But a smaller incident, such as your main computer crashing, can be devastating if that’s the only place where you have all your data stored.
Nowadays apps like Dropbox and Google Drive allow you to easily store all your business files in the cloud. You can access any file from anywhere. There are also plenty of cloud based software available to run every aspect of your business.
Fortunately, we at Action are fully set up online. This made it very easy and fast to email notices to every one of our clients prior to and after the storm. It also made it seamless to pick up where we left off, even though we had no power or access to our office. By the way, as of the time of this post, we don’t know for sure when it will be restored, but we can work without limitations.
In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.
– Dwight D. Eisenhower
3. The Power of Community
It is very heartwarming and comforting to see the community come together at times of disaster. People helping each other in preparation, with supplies, and checking in to ensure everybody was safe. People opening their homes to others who didn’t have power yet, so they could have coffee, a decent meal, and a bath. It is wonderful to be part of that community.
In today’s digital world and as a business owner, being an active part of your online community reaps many benefits. You have a chance to help others with advice and hence position your expertise in the marketplace. You can share your point of view and business values and attract good clients and employees. You can stay connected with your clients so you get to know them better and vice versa.
Healing is impossible in loneliness; it is the opposite of loneliness. Conviviality is healing. To be healed we must come with all the other creatures to the feast of Creation.
– Wendell Berry, The Body and the Earth
4. Get Busy Right Away
On the second morning after the storm passed, I went out for my morning walk. There were tree branches everywhere. As I was walking by the bushes along the sidewalk I noticed fresh cab webs everywhere. The spiders had wasted no time at all to start rebuilding their nets.
I found that very inspirational.
It’s easy to get caught in post disaster mode. But as long as everyone is fine and healthy the rest is repairable or replaceable. The sooner we start working on getting things back in place the sooner we’ll get moving forward.
Don’t dwell on the material losses or temporary discomforts.
Start rebuilding right away.
Falling down is part of life. Getting back up is living.
In conclusion, despite the wreck left in our area, we feel very blessed that it’s mostly repairable damage. We are busy cleaning up, helping our neighbors in need, and back to work.