When Hurricane Ida blew through Louisiana, it not only stripped millions of their power, it ravished the businesses of countless entrepreneurs. In total, Ida caused $18 billion in insured losses in the Bayou state. Black women business owners are among those still reeling from the devastating setback.
“Every business owner has their fair share of challenges,” says Laquita Brooks, a New Orleans based realtor and multipreneur. “However, being able to deal with these issues when they come sets businesses apart.” This is why Brooks finds it fulfilling to help Black women enhance their businesses in the midst of a tumultuous event.
Oftentimes she says Black women are at a unique disadvantage following a disaster because of a myriad of factors that include access to financial aid, poor property insurance, an inability to establish themselves within the community of their business, and compounded emotional drain. To combat this, Brooks helps women pivot and figure out a new approach to getting customers. “What you did before might not work,” Brooks explains. “You may have to devise new strategies to draw people in.”Black women have built a reputation of giving back to their community, and holding it up when the time calls for it, but Brooks says it can be challenging to create an image that the community will resonate with. That’s why her advice to Black women business owners is to “disaster proof” starting in their own backyard. “Carry the essence of the community at all times in your business,” Brooks suggests. “Regardless of what you do or sell, it is best to show the community that you care.”
Additional Tips To Disaster Proofing Your Business
Build Relationships. Find a way to give back to the community through discounts, black Fridays, or other methods, so people can be eased during their difficult times and return the favor when you need it.
Have cash on hand. In case of an emergency, you have enough an emergency fund to fulfill payroll and other maintenance costs. “You still want to be able to run your business even when things are happening around you,” Brooks explains.
Get insurance coverage. Having protection is very important, especially if there is a disaster. In the case of any flooding or a hurricane, make sure you have proper insurance to fix things up immediately afterward so you can get your business up and running again.
Adjust to the current climate. Be able to adapt your strategies to suit where you are at the moment. Utilize available resources like social media. Maximize the power of online marketing to serve your customers better.
Build additional income streams. Introducing other streams of income means you never have to rely on one source. Explore options in your area of expertise that could serve as an extension of your original business. Also consider other areas of interest. “There are many opportunities if you are ready and open to look,” says Brooks.