When natural disasters like hurricanes and wildfires make the news, even people who aren’t affected start to think about what they might do in a similar situation. The reality is that disasters both large and small can happen at any time, so the best time to prepare is long before you’re at risk. Fires, floods, earthquakes, and extreme weather can wreak havoc, not only on your home and community, but also on your eBay business. While you can’t protect yourself from every possibility, there are some things you can do before and during an emergency to reduce the damage.
Here’s what you need to know about protecting your eBay business in an emergency.
Make a plan now.
Think about your personal emergency plan and get your home and business in order. While your plan will vary based on your circumstances and what types of disasters are most likely to occur where you live, it should outline the steps you’ll take before and during the event. A plan that’s well thought out in advance will give you one less thing to worry about in a stressful time.
> Check out OSHA’s Emergency Preparedness Checklist for Small Businesses for an example.
Protect your inventory.
Consider the likely outcome of a potential disaster and invest in an inventory management system that offers the best protection. If a massive storm might lead to flooding in your home or business, you may want a storage solution that allows you to move your items off the ground. Sturdy, water-resistant containers offer more protection than cardboard. If you need to evacuate, think about how quickly you’ll be able to relocate your inventory. If earthquakes are a danger where you live, consider investing in sturdier shelves, bolting them to the wall, and making sure that fragile items are always protected.
Business insurance is always a good idea, even when a disaster seems unlikely. Theft, a home fire, or flooded basement could damage or reduce your inventory and significantly affect your bottom line.
Put your store on vacation.
Think about what factors will influence your decision whether or not to put your eBay store on vacation or take down your listings so that when the time comes you can make the choice quickly. Some of the factors that might impact your decision could include the condition of your own home or business space as well as the situation in your local community and your family. For example, even if the postal service is operating as normal, you might need to focus your efforts on helping elderly family members or comforting worried kids. Or perhaps your inventory is fine on high ground, but it’s too dangerous to drive across town through flood waters to access it. Whether you are personally affected or not, some events may make it difficult to operate at full capacity. And, if you are dealing with issues like loss of electricity, flooding, or a damaged home, you’ll likely want to focus on your home and family.
Find a trusted helper.
In some circumstances, you may not be able to get online to manage your business. Choose a helper, employee or trusted friend, get them set up ahead of time with access to your account. Discuss when and how you might ask them to respond to customer messages, change your handling time, or put your store on vacation if you are unable to do so. If your inventory is kept offsite, a trusted friend with a key may be able to get to it when you can’t. Or, if your inventory is mobile, and you can get it to this person in advance, you could even ask them to ship your items until you can resume shipping.
Back up your data.
Make sure all your data, such as photos and any inventory or financial management documents, have been backed up to a cloud service or a portable hard drive. That way you can access necessary files from any location.
Pack a “bug-out bag” and create an emergency kit.
The best time to prepare an emergency kit is long before you might need it. Ready.gov lists recommendations for a complete personal emergency kit. Among the items recommended: one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, a three-day supply of non-perishable food, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, flashlight, first-aid kit, batteries, external charger for your cell phone, and any required medications. Make sure you have gas in your car and cash on hand. You may also want to create a “bug-out” bag, a small bag stocked with the essentials—such as medicine and important documents—in case you need to evacuate quickly.
No one likes to think about what they’d do in an emergency or when faced with a natural disaster, but planning ahead can ease some of the stress, save your inventory, and protect your eBay business.
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