South Florida in August is a peculiar time for small business owners and for us work at home moms. There’s a little shadow following us from June through November called hurricane season.
Not that it’s a blast for anyone living in a bulls eye zone, but when you have a home business totally dependent on things like electricity and phone systems, you find yourself looking over your shoulder waiting to see if you will be out of work for an undefined amount of time.
Unfortunately I have experienced being knocked off the grid due to a hurricane. Two years ago when Hurricane Wilma slammed into South Florida we were lucky because most people suffered only minor structural damage but we also lost water, power and phone systems for weeks.
From a business standpoint I learned a valuable lesson that anyone can use even if you don’t live in hurricane alley. Unexpected illness, natural disaster or even a minor hiccup in electricity can throw you off your game unless you are prepared.
Back up your work. You never know if your computer will crash or if your power will be out so get an external hard drive, back up your documents and keep it in a secure place.
Call or e-mail your clients ahead of time. Especially if you have clients who live outside your immediate area, call them when you believe you may be out of work and let them know why so that they can make preparations to deal with circumstances without you.
Record where you left off before your “forced vacation.” Maintain an accurate, up-to-date record of where you left off on each project and any notes that will help you resume work when you are able.
Keep your computer and documents in a water safe, strong room in your house. My home office sits in front of a big window which is nice on a regular day, but if a hurricane visits my office is toast. Wrap your documents in plastic and move your computer, client files, and work to a safe room that doesn’t have windows such as a downstairs closet or a basement if you have one.
Remember to take a few days to breathe before you jump back into the grind if you’ve been away due to an emergency. Familiarize yourself with files and projects so you are on top of your game when you return.
…the latest news is that the current storm should miss us here in Ft. Lauderdale…but then again, hurricane season has only begun.
Gina Ragusa is a freelance writer and mom from sunny (and sometimes not) South Florida. Her 15 year experience ranges from writing about banking to tattoo parlors.