The catastrophic floods affecting the State of Queensland at the moment have rammed home a critical issue for business owners to consider not only in the context of exit-readiness, but in protecting their core wealth-generating asset. 

All day I have been receiving email and SMS floodwater updates from clients and buyers in Brisbane, Ipswich and other parts of the southeast.  One commented on the “heartbreaking” state of their two-storey office – half under water and they got out what they could before it was swamped.  Another’s office is “submerged above rooftop with no time to retrieve anything from the site”.  All office equipment is gone, but luckily there was an off-site back-up of critical data.  Another – a buyer in negotiation to purchase two of my clients – was watching helplessly as the Brisbane River swelled and letting us know everything was on hold until a sense of normality returned.

So what’s the lesson for business owners?  These things can happen.  They might only happen occasionally, but occasionally is more than enough.  It has been 37 years between catastrophic floods in SE Queensland, but it just goes to show how quickly these events can occur and without warning.

So how well prepared are you?  Do you have business continuity contingency plans?  Building and contents insurance?  Do you back up your critical data regularly and store it off-site?  How quickly could your business start operating again, even from a backup location?  Do your employees know what to do in the event of such an emergency?  How would such a natural disaster affect your exit plans or the saleability of your business?

Let’s not forget that the Queensland floods are just one of a range of “Acts of God” in recent months: concurrently, there are bushfires south of Perth, but who could forget the Black Saturday fires in Victoria not so long ago?  The massive quake that pretty much levelled Christchurch in New Zealand?  Tsunamis in the Pacific and SE Asia, snap freezes in the UK, USA and Europe and mudslides in South America.  And lest we forget “Acts of Terror” perpetrated by disgruntled extremists, such as 9/11, the Bali bombings and the London tube attacks.

Even if you are not directly in the path of the floods or being affected diectly, if nothing else, learn a valuable lesson and spend some time putting in place a business continuity plan.  It will not stop natural disasters from occurring, but it may well save your nest egg and protect the livelihoods of your staff and their families.