What to do after an emergency

After an emergency passes, you will want to get your business back on its feet as quickly as possible. During the recovery phase, you’ll need to do a business impact statement and reassess the market and your financial position.

Once your finances are in order and you have a way forward, restoring your business can be a lot easier. When you're back up and running, you should revisit your emergency management plan.

Update your plan to include the lessons learnt by your business during the emergency and ways of minimising your risk in the future.

Part of being an adaptable business is learning from a crisis. After an emergency there may be an opportunity to make changes in the way you operate to avoid further damage in the future. For example, when rebuilding you can use more flood, fire or earthquake resistant construction materials.

Think about what you need to do to adapt to these changes. This may be an opportunity to move location, start trading online, or change the key products or services you offer.

Manage your cash flow following an emergency

Your business's recovery may depend on how much cash you have available. Fortunately, there are a range of options available to increase your cash flow.

  • Seek financial advice and counselling - professional advice may be the best way to get your business back on its feet.
    • A list of free financial counselling services is available on the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) MoneySmart website.
    • Financial counselling services are also available through the Rural Financial Counselling Service for farmers, fishing enterprises, forest growers and harvesters, and small related businesses who are suffering, or at the imminent risk of suffering hardship, and who have no other sources of impartial support.
  • Make an insurance claim - make a claim as soon as possible, so the insurance company can process it quickly. If you aren't the only person affected, expect additional delays as your insurance company processes numerous claims.
  • Talk to your creditors - explain your current financial situation to your creditors. Your bank or building society may agree to freeze your loan or offer you an interest only arrangement until you're able to recover.
  • Talk to government agencies - government agencies can help you arrange financial relief during an extended emergency or period of hardship. There are often arrangements for businesses in areas of fire, flood and cyclones, such as deferral of a payment or extension of an application.
  • Apply for government funding - government funding is available to help in times of need. There is a range of government assistance available for floods, fires, drought and a number of other natural disasters.
  • Seek non-government funding or donations – in the event of a disaster many charities receive generous donations to help the community get back on its feet. Talk to your local charity organisations for more details.
  • Chase up your debtors - contact as many debtors as you can and explain your current financial situation. Chase up any money owing to you.
  • Research alternative finance options - talk to your financial institution for any possible short-term finance options.
  • Self-fund your recovery - see if there are any assets you're able to sell quickly. Find any cash reserves or possible investors willing to fund your recovery.
  • Beware of scams - often in times of crisis there are some individuals that try to take advantage of those that are most vulnerable. Be aware that this could happen to your business and take steps to stay informed about current scams in Australia.

Help employees return to work after an emergency

The quicker you rebuild, the quicker your employees can return to work.

In some cases, you can make alternative arrangements while you rebuild so they can work from home or a temporary location. They may also need some replacement equipment. Most importantly you need to ensure they are getting paid, which may mean you need to re-establish your payroll system.

In a disaster situation, your employees may have sustained some damage at home or even lost family members. If they are able to return, it may be useful to provide them with counselling services to help them cope during the difficult times.

If an employee can't return to work, you may need to hire someone to replace them or have an existing employee do the work. Also consider flexible working arrangements if an employee is unable to get to the usual place of work.

Recover your information systems

If you sustain damage to your systems, consider if you need to purchase replacement information systems (including computers, peripherals and software).

Retrieve any data backups you have offsite and restore or recreate your systems. If there is damage to your backups, consider having a professional data recovery specialist to recover any data from your damaged computer. You may be surprised to find what you can recover.

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