In 2002, I opened a small business in downtown Salt Lake City. The next year there was a catastrophic fire, and everything was lost in a matter of hours. When I first opened my business, I wasn’t thinking about a fire; I was concentrating on the daily operations of my business. I didn’t have a contingency plan and had to scramble to find space and get my business up and running again. I was lucky that my employee was the one who noticed the smoke and called the fire department then grabbed our hard drive as he left the building.

Each year, major disasters force thousands of businesses to close but even more common events such as building fires, broken water lines or sudden loss of data can end with business closure. SBA research shows that at least 25 percent of businesses that close following these events do not reopen and many that do struggle to survive. Business continuity and evacuation planning, and protecting vital records such as insurance documents, are critical to the success of your business

One of the best places to get information is the State of Utah’s website: www.bereadyutah.gov. Another great way to ready your business for an emergency is to participate in the statewide April 17 “Great ShakeOut” event. More than 720,000 individuals, including more than 30,600 business participants, have already signed up to take part in the event, which is aimed to encourage Utahns to prepare for major earthquakes so we know what to do before, during and after. You can find out more and register to participate at www.shakeout.org.

Here are some examples of what you can do to prevent emergencies from permanently affecting your business:

1. Computers: Have you taken any of these actions to prevent damage to computers and/or loss of your critical information?
  • Secured computers to prevent damage
  • Established a back-up system for critical information
  • Elevated (in flood hazard areas) and/or braced inventory
2. Workplace Safety: Have you taken any of these actions to prevent injury to employees and customers, especially to avoid liability issues?
  • Identified structural weaknesses and improved building strength
  • Secured non-structural hazards like lighting and HVAC equipment to prevent them from falling
  • Developed special delivery arrangements of inventory after a disaster
Sometimes even small emergencies can sideline a business so make sure that your business isn’t one of the statistics and prepare a business continuity plan.

Let Zions Bank’s Business Resource Center assist you with your business needs. Call us for a free appointment at (801) 594-8245. We are open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Beth Holbrook can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..