The Challenges of Mother Nature
Living in Paradise is a great asset but it also has its challenges. The weather, the sunlight, and outdoor advantages are a blessing but mother nature can inflict some serious blows, emotionally, financially, and physically. The Caribbean is prone to hurricanes annually. The Atlantic hurricane season starts on June 1 and ends on November 30 but the season peaks in late August through September. There are several ways in which your business and production can be interrupted.
1. You are at risk for wind damage or flooding. If your premises are not properly secured against hurricanes, damages could be catastrophic, stock could be damaged, even if your premises survive a hurricane, the lost of essential services can take its toll. I have experienced three major hurricanes in the last decade. We suffered water damage during one hurricane and loss of production time for over three months on each occasion. After Irma, the loss of production time was six months and loss of business was over 12 months. Electricity, Internet Service, communications were disrupted for over four months and over six months in some areas.
2. Tourism is the major industry for most Caribbean countries. For Anguilla where I reside, it is the only industry. After a hurricane, travel is severely disrupted, hotels close for repairs, damage to airports prohibits planes from landing and many other factors brings tourism to a halt. The only sectors that cannot complain after Irma are the construction workers and the auto mechanics. Even so, lack of finances to carry out repairs delayed the recovery process.
It is safe to say that most business catering to the tourist industry, lost over twelve months of business in the aftermath of hurricane Irma.
The impact of the hurricane season is very destructive to island economies. It is the main reason why we have the two seasons, the Tourist Season, which can be as short as four months for some islands: December to March and as much as five to six months for some. It is unfortunate because some of our best weather can de between June and August but the fear of hurricanes impact on travel to the hurricane destinations.
Lack of Proper management by some destinations is partly to blame for the misunderstandings surrounding the off-season. It is virtually impossible to run a financially successful business of six months of steady business unless you charge high prices to offset the lack of business during the off-season.
Modern technology and communication achievement are at such a high level that adequate warnings are available to encourage travelers to plan their travels fairly safely within a seven to ten day period. This requires cooperation of the hotels, airlines, and tourism managers. For example, tourists once traveled to Anguilla during September and October but most of the major hotels, restaurants, and related services started closing during those months. As a result, the number of holiday visitors during those months declined to almost zero.
How do you prepare for all the negative influences on your business as an artist and entrepreneur?
Only successful and long established businesses might be able to afford the rising costs of insurance today but if you can afford it you should take out an insurance policy against physical damage, loss of stock, and business interruption. Ideal for a business that can afford it, read all the fine print carefully, especially when it comes to flooding. Many insurance policies does not cover flooding which is very possible during a hurricane.
If you cannot afford insurance, make sure your premises are secured by hurricane shutters and at the earliest warning of a hurricane, try to secure your stock and raw materials as much as possible.
It is wise to invest in an adequate size generator for your needs in case you are without power after a hurricane. A supply of solar gadgets will come in very handy, lights and chargers should be top of the list. Add a couple tarpaulin to your list of hurricane supplies.
Save for a Rainy Day
I know this can be the most difficult suggestion for an artist, because we always seem to be struggling but try very hard to save a little money for a rainy day. Secure it somewhere where it is not a challenge to reach it at a moments notice, maybe somewhere where it might be feasible to borrow against it. If it is a secure loan, the interest rate should not be too exorbitant.
The life of an artist can be a dream come true and very rewarding but you must be willing to take the good and the bad. This year will make fifty years as a full time artist and I would not hesitate to do it all again. I wish I had the opportunity to learn from some mistakes. Now I am giving you that opportunity; Take Heed.