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The Green Sheet Online Edition

November 11, 2019 • Issue 19:11:01


Expect the unexpected – and prepare

In business, as in life, we all have ups and downs. It's how we handle them that makes all the difference to our results over time. Our elected officials come to mind when thinking of how not to handle ups and downs. In bringing this up, I'm not taking a side right or left, conservative or progressive. The two leading parties in the United States have different priorities, but I think they both tend to be shortsighted when it comes to ensuring that down times have as little impact on the citizenry as possible. Let's not emulate them in our business practices.

When things are going well, it's important to set aside resources to shore us up in the event of a reversal of some kind. If you haven't already done so, consider consulting an accountant or financial adviser about this. A professional will be able to assess your situation and provide advice on requisite liquid assets to have on hand so your business can weather a negative event without undue hardship.

An economic downturn is one type of event, but other detrimental things can also occur. What if you had a medical emergency that kept you away from your company for an extended period, for example, or what if your community experienced a natural disaster such as a flood or fire? I expect you have a general business plan that is based on the end goal you have in mind. Do you have plans for how to handle negative events that could occur? What about a plan for helping your merchants should they experience a negative event that is out of their control?

What can you do?

As I write this, millions of people are without power in California due to planned shutoffs imposed by Pacific Gas and Electric. This was done to make it less likely their equipment, battered by high winds in dry conditions, would cause fires or contribute to the spread of fires already burning. Due to the structure of the energy grid, power is out in some areas not directly threatened by the flames. People in those locales haven't been evacuated and still need everyday services. Some retailers in those areas that invested in generators have been able to keep their doors open, while others have shuttered. When businesses are forced to close their doors for several days, this takes a huge bite out of their sales, and by extension, the profits of the payments professionals serving them.

Of course, a generator won't be the answer in every circumstance. But, say, if you're in a flood-prone area, it makes sense to get flood insurance if it's available. You can also consult experts for advice about on-site improvements that could help your business limit losses from a flood. Buildings can be reinforced to withstand earthquakes, too, for those located in quake-prone regions. And wherever you are, you can work with members of your community to see what regional projects can be done to shore up infrastructures needed to handle potential disasters.

It's certain we will face emergencies, financial and physical, occasionally. But we can all mitigate the effects if we prepare in advance. end of article

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