Now that the tornado has passed or the floodwaters have receded and your business is in shambles, how will you pick up the pieces? Where will you begin? The Small Business Administration (SBA) has some tips that may help you stay in business in the aftermath of a disaster.

In addition to destruction, disaster leaves a host of unanswered questions in its wake: "How much will it cost me to rebuild?" "Will my insurance cover all the damage?" "How will I pay my employees and vendors and cover expenses during recovery?"

SBA disaster loans go a long way toward revitalizing small businesses that have been crippled by disasters, but the agency also encourages business owners to plan ahead and develop a solid preparedness plan to help them recover sooner should disaster strike.

As part of that plan, you should review your insurance coverage. Contact your agent to find out if your coverage is right for your business and make sure you understand the policy limits, the SBA advises. Ask about business interruption insurance that will compensate for lost income and cover operating expenses if your company is shut down temporarily.

You should also establish a solid supply chain. If all your vital external vendors and suppliers are local, the disaster that strikes you may also strike them, and each of you will struggle to recover, says the SBA. Diversify your list of vendors to include companies outside your local area, if possible. Create a contact list for contractors and vendors you plan to use in an emergency, and find out if those suppliers have a recovery plan in place.

A disaster may force you to operate your business at an alternate location. The SBA recommends that you do advance research for alternate locations in the event you are forced to relocate. And establish a plan for employees to telecommute if possible until you rebuild.

The financial and emotional cost of rebuilding after a disaster can be overwhelming. But with a business continuity plan in place, you'll be able to rebound and reopen more quickly and be in a stronger position to contribute to the economic recovery of your community, the SBA says.

Reach BusinessNewsDaily senior writer Ned Smith at Follow him on Twitter @nedbsmith.We're also on Facebook & Google+.

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