Power's Out?! Here are Some Ways to Keep Your Business Running – Even in the Dark.

In the spirit of Worldwide Candle Lighting Day on December 13, get out the candles and matches because your business can tread on regardless of electricity status. Here’s how to make it happen.


You can spend a lifetime maneuvering around business problems, but sometimes things happen that are simply out of your control: severe thunderstorms, super high winds, ice, downed power lines. But your business doesn’t have to shut down when the power – or internet – goes out. We know how that sounds in this digitally powered age. And your first reaction might be to completely freak out when such an incident occurs. But that’s why we are here to remind you that while an outage may be extremely frustrating, there are steps you can take to keep business running as close to normal as possible.

Step 1: Light your favorite scented candles and take a deep breath.

Most likely, this situation is all thanks to Miss Mother Nature, a nearby accident, or a routine infrastructure upgrade that requires utility systems to be taken offline temporarily. Sure, this is super inconvenient for you and your business. Have a 10-second worry break, then reel yourself back in. You can totally make this work. Go find any candles (from your own inventory if you must!) or flashlights and get them propped up around your workspace (being wary of open flames around your assets, of course, and try to air out the place so the smoke doesn’t irritate people with allergies or other airborne particle sensitivities). Now, even if it’s nighttime, you can somewhat see your surroundings. And hey, that’s definitely better than nothing. You can do this.

Step 2: Crank out the back-up generator.

If you have a back-up power generator on hand, then you’re definitely in luck! This is the perfect opportunity to get some real use out of that puppy. If you run your business from a property that has a standby generator installed, it should automatically recognize your home or office has lost power and works its magic without hesitation. Now, if you know generators aren’t an option for you in this instance, then stick with the flashlights, camping lanterns or candles.

Step 3: Notify any customers with pending orders.

You’ll probably find that power outages equate to internet outages – or at least Wi-Fi outages. But there’s still a few ways you can contact customers if the power outage lingers and their orders will be impacted. If you still have cellular connectivity (and a way to keep your phone or tablet charged), then you can send a quick email. To be honest, if this is still working, you may not be as down and out as you think. You might still be able to print labels to a Bluetooth-connected printer and notify the shipping carrier that you have pickups ready.

On the off chance you’re completely down and out, call upon any trusted neighbors, friends and family nearby who may have gotten lucky and still have power. See if they would be willing to let you come over to send out those emails or print those labels. It just helps to keep them in the loop. And, hey, if they happen to have lost power too, then they’ll understand your pain! If there’s nowhere else you can go, there’s still a few tricks you can try solo.

Step 4: Figure out what tasks you can accomplish digitally and forge ahead.

Keeping in mind your laptop and smartphone can only last so long without a working electrical outlet, you’ll want to reserve those devices for the most critical uses after notifying your customers. (Though, don’t forget many vehicles now have full 120-volt outlets in them, and there are a ton of solar chargers on the market these days.) No matter your recharging situation, though, get the most out of the battery life your devices have left by getting any achievable digital tasks out of the way first. Can you type up emails or question inquiries to have ready to send once things come back online? Can you design social media graphics on an offline desktop program? We know your bandwidth for completing digital tasks might be slim if you don’t have internet access, but it’s still bandwidth. Another idea: you may be able to use your smartphone to create a personal hotspot which can allow your business to function like normal as long as the batteries are powered up. But remember, you might need your devices for personal emergencies, so avoid using them for work until the point of shutdown unless absolutely necessary.

Step 5: Once your battery is running low, switch to offline activities that boost your business.

No one ever knows exactly when the power will return during outages, so you’re better off preparing as if the darkness is here to stay. Make a list of all the tasks that could be completed with low lighting and zero technology. It could be as simple as organizing your office space and writing down notes. Even if these activities aren’t your business’ biggest priorities, it’s still time well spent because it’s investing worthwhile energy into your company. You can be prepping for what you need to do or want to accomplish as soon as the power comes back on so you are doing your job even faster, more efficiently and successfully than you would have without the preparation opportunity.

Step 6: Celebrate that the power is back on and how you still managed to be as productive as physically possible because you are a rockstar business pro.

Really, pat yourself on the back for staying determined and making it work. Now resume to your typical workflow, give discounts to any customers whose orders may have been impacted or delayed from the situation, and do it with the lights on. (But doesn’t hurt to keep a candle lit anyway for the ambience).

Never underestimate the power of optimism and perseverance. Your business may encounter a million different ups and downs during its existence, and this just might be one of them. Better to be prepared and handle it like a pro than to let the problem win control and throw in the towel. Life happens, so always choose to have a solution-oriented mindset, and keep trying your best. No matter what the next bump in the road will be, take it with stride. And if it happens to be a power outage, well, you know what to do.


Editor's Note:

While Worldwide Candle Lighting Day may be behind us, there’s always an opportunity to light up some inspiration and discover new ways to boost your business efforts. Head on back to the Zebra ZSB blog for some more words of business wisdom.