Disaster: What can business learn from the US

The issue of being prepared for a disaster affecting businesses often means knowing what would you do if a cash flow problem occurred or if a supplier failed to delivered goods.

However, there are actually far wider and great threats that should be considered as a disaster and these can range from weather related events right through to political upheaval.


In the UK, you might not think that we need to put much thought into disastrous weather scenarios in the same way that a company based in the US might have to. Of course, we don’t have regular tornado seasons as do some American states and gales causing inland damage are less likely. Nonetheless, if you live in one of the many areas deeply impacted by flooding across the north and southwest of the UK in recent years, you will know only too well that our corner of the world is just as vulnerable to damage caused by mother nature as any other.


Weather events such as storms and flooding can cause problems that can cripple a business by making premises unusable, or disrupting supply lines so that cash flow is seriously affected and trading limited or halted altogether. There are many other disaster scenarios that are far more modern though, simply because most businesses today rely so much on electronic communications and IT technologies.

Customers are now used to an always-on service, and this means that hacks, security breaches and other types of data loss or corruption can be every bit as damaging to day-to-day operations as physical weather events. They can also have the added negative impact of loss of customer trust and subsequent severe reputational damage. 

Disaster prevention and recovery

Being prepared for all these different types of disasters is something a business of any size and location should include as part of its planning. Looking at how American companies are further down the road of having disaster preparedness plans in place can help and many UK businesses can learn valuable lessons from them.

Creating a disaster recovery plan can be as simple as making use of cloud applications and storage, but going further by looking into secondary office space or emergency home-working arrangements can be sensible elements to factor in. A wider application of disaster recovery has seen specialist companies such as Black Umbrella come on the scene. Run by entrepreneur Catherine Hooper, who started the venture in the wake of the Hurricane Katrina disaster, her business now offers planning services to individuals and companies to help them cope if the worst actually did happen.

Be prepared

The old motto of ‘be prepared‘ can mean different things to different people, but UK businesses can definitely learn from their America counterparts on how to make arrangements that will enable continuous trading and little or no disruption to productivity. By taking the time to make a disaster plan that covers everything from a burst pipe to a full scale environmental emergency, you can make sure that you know exactly what needs to be done in any given circumstances.