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Warren Buffett thinks there's a "megacatastrophe" coming. It could be an earthquake, hurricane, or cyber attack--he doesn't know. Here's what he does know, according to his annual shareholders letter, released on Saturday: Berkshire Hathaway has a plan.
In his letter, Buffett writes:
A major catastrophe that will dwarf hurricanes Katrina and Michael will occur--perhaps tomorrow, perhaps many decades from now. "The Big One" may come from a traditional source, such as a hurricane or earthquake, or it may be a total surprise involving, say, a cyber attack having disastrous consequences beyond anything insurers now contemplate.
When such a mega-catastrophe strikes, we will get our share of the losses and they will be big--very big. Unlike many other insurers, however, we will be looking to add business the next day.
Before you call him crazy, remember who we're talking about: Buffett is known as the Oracle of Omaha for a reason. Let's say he's right. Megacatastrophe! What do you do?
Unfortunately, you probably can't copy Buffett's scheme, which he admits relies heavily on Berkshire Hathaway's unusually large budget. Buffett, after all, built his reputation in the insurance business and knows from risk.
Luckily, you can copy his mindset: Prepare for the unknown. And many existing disaster-preparedness strategies are useful standard operating procedures for any startup.
Hurricane prep, for example, includes contingency plans for communicating with colleagues and customers when utilities and cell towers stop working. Wildfire prep includes storing valuable documents in a fireproof safe and backing up your data to a secure, offsite location. Cybersecurity prep--possibly your most pressing concern, as 70 percent of cyber attacks target small businesses--includes malware scanners and firewalls.
If you're already doing those things, fantastic. If you aren't, perhaps it's time to start. Besides, Buffett's predictions have a pretty strong track record. I wouldn't want to bet against them.
Here's what else I'm reading today:
- Last night's Oscars were an essential reminder that there's no such thing as an overnight success. --Inc.
- A celebrated young entrepreneur has been accused of a 2016 sexual assault at South by Southwest. --Inc.
- The $15 minimum wage doesn't just improve lives. It saves them. --The New York Times
- A self-described "disruptive entrepreneur" crafted a multimillion-dollar Airbnb scheme. Then, police showed up at his door. --The New York Times
- This medical-testing startup's founder does everything she can to avoid Elizabeth Holmes comparisons--even avoiding black turtlenecks. --The Washington Post
- You probably haven't heard of Microsoft's augmented-reality headset--and that's just how the company wants it. --The Wall Street Journal
- If you thought Samsung's $2,000 foldable phone was expensive, you really won't like Huawei's version. --Engadget
- Speaking of disaster preparedness, this luxury home that floats on water and withstands hurricane-force winds could be yours--for a cool $5.4 million. --Forbes