Prepping: Yes, You Need a Business Plan

Short course in business:  6 P’s.

Proper Planning Prevents Piss-Poor Performance.

If you are new to the idea of “prepping” rest assured the field is infinitely large and totally overloaded with mostly useless crap – especially on the web.  I say this, having started UrbanSurvival in 1997.  In the 20+ years I have been writing about prepping in general – I’ve been struck by people’s near TOTAL LACK of business acumen; it’s become totally clear that prepping has been totally perverted.

An example:  look at all the “survival knives” on the market.

Yeah, sure, if you’re a serious outdoorsy they CAN made sense.  But, most of the time, a solid Bowie knife is more useful since most “tactical” blades aren’t worth a crap for field-dressing game.  Yes, the straight serrated edge looks mighty intimidating. Ever trying cutting a tree limb with one?  LOL, what a joke.

Face it, kid:  Absent serious training in hand-to-hand combat, the right tool in the field will have a curved blade for flaying things out.  You carry a pair of rubber gloves for field-dressing, right?

Another nice, but how useful?  Paracord bracelets.  Yes, when we owned our Beechcraft and were flying all over the wilds of America (Rockies, Cascades, and so forth), a paracord bracelet made sense.  But, again, we were the exceptions:  How many people need a 10-pound survival pack per person on a light aircraft?  You know how few of us there are, really?

Flying “the bush” is one of the few places a “survival knife” made sense.  Not for the blade (as I’ve complained, most are so-so) but for the hollow handle that has fishing hooks, some fish line, and some steel wire to make snares for small game.  Again, check reality this:  Do you know how to make a small game snare?  Let alone, finding a game trail to set it along?  Bait it?  But I digress…

What people skip over first is the BUSINESS PLAN to Prep sensibly.

What’s a Business Plan?

Save you six-years of school here:  The version I taught my son, goes like this:

“Pretend you are a frog and you want to get out to the middle of the lake where there are lots of flies (yum!) among the water lilies.  A business plan is deciding which lily-pads to jump on – and in which order – to get to the objective (middle of the lake) with the least work possible.”

Business School refresher work here:  The major parts of a Business Plan are:

  • Executive Summary.
  • Business Description.
  • Market Analysis.
  • Organization Management.
  • Sales Strategies.
  • Funding Requirements.
  • Financial Projections.

Idiots (which there is not shortage of in business) tend to write the Executive Summary (short “battle” or “jumps plan”) first.  These plans usually fail because the writer instantly becomes prone to writing the plan to the vision.

Idiot Business Plans are all huff and puff with no stuff.

A better way to proceed is to write everything BUT the summary.  Collect and process all the data and THEN summarize – if you even need to.

It’s like when writing.  If you write the 2-paragraph version of a whole novel, you’ll write a shitty book because you’ll be conforming to description constraints instead of “discovering” the book as you write.  Business plans are no different.  They are thinking tools before investing time and effort.

Let’s do part – a thumbnail of a business plan to prep – shall we?  I will use one of my own half-grown children (age 37 is near enough half grown, lol) as the basis.  Here goes.

Business Description:

The Owner of the plan is female, married, living in a highly populated urban area and wishes to increase the survival potential of her family unit. She and spouse both work, have friends, active like, not loaded with time or money for prepping…

For your own plan, this may be all you need to write for this section – easy-peasy, right?  All this says is “here we are…”

However, things get terribly more complicated as we move on to:

Market (Problem) Analysis:

The major survival threats to our family unit in a suburb of Seattle are:

  1. Unemployment of one or both partners.
  2. Accident/disease or long-term disability.
  3. Crime such as carjacking, home invasion, street crime, and identity theft.
  4. Recreational and travel risks
  5. Financial Collapse
  6. Physical geo-risks such as Earthquake or Floods
  7. Hard Internet or Grid-Down
  8. Social breakdown or political failure, Collapse model.

Other risks may arise and will be prioritized here.  Our initial plan looks at a six-month survival horizon.

You see what has happened here?

We are taking this steely-eyed reality-check view as we look at REAL RISKS in aa REAL SETTING in an actuarial kind of way.

Your city and circumstances will change your list.  Elaine and I live semi-remote, for example, so our “business plan” highlights health risks as higher.   So things like dementia and cardiovascular risks are higher (at 70-something) than Mount Rainer blowing up and washing the Puyallup River Valley into Tacoma’s Commencement Bay.

On the other hand, our passwords for anything on the net are at least 13 characters with mandatory upper/lower case and oddball punctuation.  More on our financial sites.  No site access EVER on phones without two-factor and….well you know that one, right?

Remember: Use the Gibson Research Password strength checking tool here to test your vulnerability because statistically it’s a lot more likely than utter, bug-out inducing catastrophe.

“Who you are and where you are determines your risk list.”

Preppers have a tendency to “write checks in lieu of thinking.”  The Business Plan approach looks at the statistical composition of risks and prioritizes the response.

Look over the list again:  If you are sneaking up on 40 and you don’t have a lot of dough stashed in the bank, unemployment can be a bitch. Got a “live in the van” fall-back?   Thing is, unemployment is far more probable than being wheelchair-bound from an accident.  For most, it’s a certainty.

But, let’s keep going:  SOME kind of accident may be more likely than a home invasion, but this depends (statistically) on the demography of your social group memberships.  The more social you are, the higher your risk of crime because crimes are often committed by people you know…even if peripherally.  See how this works?

And then down at the bottom of the list is the bug-out plan to escape the oozing volcano…because except for Mt. St. Helens (50.1 miles, crater to crater from Rainier BTW)…Rainer’s not been an issue for a geologically long time.  St. Helens was a “relief valve” for that part of the Cascade Mountain chain, to some extent.

Sorting out the middle of the list is – again – a highly personal thing.  If you are an expert skier but drive a new Beemer, your outdoor risk is lower than your risk of a carjacking.  Driving through low-income areas with unlocked doors while distracted texting and driving won’t help, now, will it?

On the other hand, if you are just learning to ski and you drive a 15-year old car – a semi-beater – congrats of “profile managing” which somewhere in here should dawn on you as one of  the nearly free “Real Preppping” options.  The Ure’s drive a 14-year old Lexus, remember.  If a perp is planning to risk the Big House, are they going to go for the old car or that Porsche  GT-III turbo  ahead of us.  See how this flows?

SWOT Analysis:

Further Analysis of Risks reveals the following:

  • Strengths we currently have are:
    • Some water
    • Some food
    • Some medications and paper products
    • Hiking gear
    • Great physical condition (Both are Tough Mudders and He has his 10-year black headband… these are real-deal kids)
  • Weaknesses:
    • We don’t have too much “live off the land” experience.
    • Our navigation skills are electronic-based on cell and onboard GPS
    • We don’t have current bike “ride-out” emphasis up to speed.
    • Autonomous time is limited by water sources
  • Opportunities:
    • We could take up fishing and foraging. 
    • We could have a fishing kit and research seasonal factors in our region.
    • We could read books on “orienteering”
    • We could get some laminated hiking maps and sighting compasses.
    • Work on bikes, do on 25-miler per month.
    • We could buy LifeStraw’s (two each)
  • Threats:
    • We could strengthen our personal self-defense skills.
      • She’s taking kick-boxing
      • Both should have a pistol and a long gun
      • Neither is a ham radio operator and in disasters communications is critical

Our plan is reviewed on a regular basis on the first Tuesday night of each month and progress is measured.

SWOT is, as you have figured by now, short for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.

Essentially, you can rough this out in brainstorming with your mate/partner on a sheet of paper divided in half vertically and again horizontally.  In government circles, put the SWOT on a single PowerPoint slide and it becomes the ubiquitous “Quad Chart:” which is then used by know-nothing government planners to make decisions in areas where they often have no underlying appreciation for the consequences of their actions….

But I digress.

Back to the Prepper’s Business Plan:

Organization Management:

Our Market/Problem Analysis says we need to prep for the following in order:  (Numbered List)

Responsibilities to achieve successive one week, one month, three month, six month, 9-month  and one year goals are as follows:

  • Partner 1 is in charge of X, Y, and Z
  • Partner 2 is in charge of A, B, and C

The plan is written down and reviewed on the first Tuesday night of each month.  If items are not accomplished, they are reviewed again on the third Tuesday night each month.

Business 101:  “What gets measured gets done.”

Plans fail when they are not well thought-out, when they are not specific, then they are not MEASURED, and when they are not zealously followed regardless of obstacles encountered.

(Sales) Strategies:

Here’s how we will fill in each of our weaknesses:

  • …numbered list…

This is where you’re finally on the downhill run.

Each of those Weaknesses (and any actions that can enhance Opportunities or Strengths or reduce Threats) gets laid out as a timeline and a measurement system here.

For example, say Partner 1 is in charge of the fishing skills weakness.  What is the action plan to fill the void here?  Learn to fish, practice, and mix with driving and hiking trips.  Good time to try out fresh mountain trout, too…  So this part of the Prepper Business Plan might look like this:

Strategy:  Fishing Skill

  • P1:  Read basic ebook on fishing
  • P2:  Does search on “meat fishing”
  • P1:  Get free Wash. State fresh and saltwater regs.
  • P1:  Get on a local fishing board.
  • P1:  Track used fishing gear on eBay, Craigslist
  • P1:  Makes up minimal gear list
    • Version 1 for car bug out
    • Version 2 for bike or hike bug out
  • P2:  Works on lure planning and seasonality

As you can see, there’s a small-steps to get there on each of these.

“Well, my bike needs the front brake adjusted….” and so it goes.  There is no space to waste time on social media and similar pap.  Too much people talking and not enough doing when comes to prepping.

Over time, you can then evolve your plan to include lots of other things you want out of life.  A shared life is a shared business plan and that’s why some couples work and some don’t.  All about sharing and getting specific and actionable about a shared future.  (Stuff you learn as you grow up and older…)


Our projected time and expenses are as follows:

As you can see, this is a very easy to follow approach:  Less than $10 bucks to “prep out” this skill.  Prioritize the skills and assets needed into what’s at the top of the real threats list.

The highlights of this are:  You can plan to ameliorate (reduce) your personal threat exposure to a wide range of statistically possible threats for not very much money.

What’s more, much of what you will be doing is “dual use.”

In other words, when not doing “Tough Mudder” runs, this couple could with very little additional cost, put together a fishing/camping plan and get out of the city on weekends.

This might seem anti-social, at least in some sense…maybe sports trivia on the weekend goes….but the flip side is that camping on weekends if you live in a “coop” during the week is not a bad thing.  There is NOTHING as good as fresh food, cooked and eat outdoors.

Whether our “example couple” has any interest in this kind of approach is up to them.

But the benefits go far beyond “prepping” because it’s a “buzz on the  ‘net.”

This kind of grown-up planning will teach you, along with prepping improvements, things like budgeting and planning together, skill building and sharing, research, and purpose in life that goes far beyond the weekly “putting on the Yoke of Oppression for the Man.”

Remember too that is YOUR life isn’t working out very nicely, it will usually come down to the 7th P in our 6 P model:

The Person.

Oh, yeah…now if you must…you can write the Executive Summary of what’s you’re planning to do.  Or, like us, skipd right to the Nike part.

(Just Do It!)

Write when you get motivated…

9 thoughts on “Prepping: Yes, You Need a Business Plan”

  1. “unemployment can be a bitch. Got a “live in the van” fall-back? Thing is, unemployment is far more probable than being wheelchair-bound from an accident. For most, it’s a certainty.”

    God is that the truth.. a stark reality.. our church suggests everyone have a six month supply or is that six weeks now.. it use to be two years.. and they need to up that back to two years.. we had a year and it was almost not enough.. and reality check.. no one is going to rescue you.. the church may have funds available .. but this isn’t really funds.. the missions and soup lines are filled to max.. your on your own.. don’t count on unemployment..( reality is very few get it) can’t count on FEMA.. ( my niece after a devastation was given help.. twenty bucks and a good luck) read some accounts from those that have lived in HELL and you realize.. a book just doesn’t cover it real life has unlimited variables.

  2. Excellent post. The SWOT analysis is exactly what I’ve been looking for as a template for the “family talk” that we need to have with the kids. As we head into what may be a “financial winter” with the added possibilities of grid/internet outages, social unrest (just wait until a state fails to load the EBT cards just once) we need to get the adult kids on board.

    Problem is… nobody wants to talk about it. Normalcy bias.

  3. When our volcano erupted and lava wiped out over 700 homes here over two thousand unprepared people were driven out of their homes with little notice. Rental homes were soon filled. Emergency shelters were available for the short term, but people that are newly homeless are floundered with no ongoing life plan. Slowly they are filtering out of the shelters, but the stories are horrific. One ham operator friend lost his home and income after ten years in Hawaii and was forced to move back to the mainland to live with family and start all over in life. Some who thought they were ‘prepared’ with expensive ‘lava threat’ insurance from Lloyds of London are finding the insurance is not paying their claims… leaving them also homeless and broke. Yeah, the FEMA ‘help’ amounted to much less than adequate payments for those who qualified and could prove they lost everything.

    PLAN AHEAD… for the worst.

    • “Yeah, the FEMA ‘help’ amounted to much less than adequate payments for those who qualified ”

      My niece was lol
      The payments they got was twenty dollars.. You cannot count on anyone else.
      Usually in a real situation those you assume will be your backup support vanishes. Not because they aren’t willing to be there but more that they feel helpless.
      The times I’ve needed help it came from somewhere I still don’t know who or how..

  4. Excellent, George, and thanks!

    One comment: ISTM the second step should be to organize the market analysis, to group threats by the type of problem each would cause. This way, things which lessen multiple threats can be moved up the preparation hierarchy, like: “Food & water” for unemployment, disability, financial collapse, grid down, and social breakdown, and “cash on-hand” for unemployment, disability, crime, collapse, and grid down. In a metro area, I’d have “bug-out minimally” at the top of the list — a GO-bag, bicycle, and fully-charged GMRS pair, and once those were in order, I’d forget about a more robust bug-out plan until every “in-place” system was completed.

    With prepper newbs, it’s baby steps, and the more stuff that can be covered with less money and effort, the more likely the babes will adopt prepping as an “all things considered” more efficient lifestyle…

  5. George, a home invasion/burglary should be considered as a certainty, rather than a lower risk than “accidents”, IMHO. If it never happens, consider it a merciful Act of God. Having experienced this and worked with the sheriff and police to help find the guy and then watched a judge release him to disappear and never show up for court, I can assure you that this can only be countered with very serious measures.

    Never leave anything that really matters where anyone, including yourself, can get to it without major time and effort. That includes documents, PM’s, data, money, jewelry, watches, computers and anything that can be moved without a forklift. Small stuff is most at risk and you may not notice it for a while. Backups are nice, but they’re secondary. Original documents can’t be backed up, only copied.

    I never knew the guy who broke in, and had I been home sooner, might have had a chance to catch or disable him. These guys are usually between 15 and 30 on average and will break into anywhere they can. Most don’t get caught. Remoteness is not a factor or a solution. Neither is neighborhood. They are equal opportunity destroyers. They are quick, quiet, and will break in even if you’re home. Many are on meth. They will return repeatedly if they can. Plan on never getting your stuff back – it’s a true rarity.

    I could write a book on this. If you’re home and have alarms and cameras, you can take action, but you must be armed and quick. No inhibition. Most people are paralyzed for a few seconds through disbelief. If you’re not home, then what? That’s the challenge. Alarms may deter, but they won’t stop someone with nothing to lose. Almost any house can be entered with a screwdriver alone. A deadbolt in almost every case can be defeated by splintering only the 1/2″ x 3/4″ of wood in a jamb that prevents it opening. The only real protection from such folks is concrete and/or steel on every access point. Make sure that you can always enter your residence quietly and that nobody else can.

    There’s no deadbolt on the market with more than a one inch throw – far too short. At a minimum it needs a three inch throw into steel. Windows are a big problem that is exacerbated by building codes.

    When you realize that even a moron breaking into your house and throwing papers and/or hard drives all over(or just taking your computers) can destroy months or years of work. I’ve seen years of others’ work lost because someone took a drawer full of flash drives. Some paranoia is justified.

    Two things that can help is that any entry point MUST be tamper evident! Keyed doorknobs are not. The other is that perimeter motion detection and cameras MAY provide early warning if your place is being cased. A weekly walk around the perimeter of every structure is essential. Daily is better. There’s much more, but that’s a starting point. Dogs can help but dogs are a non-starter for many folks.

    Remember that police will document and maybe even catch the perp, but your stuff is damaged/destroyed/missing and WILL NEVER be recovered. Can you withstand the loss? Most people cannot occupy their residence 24/7 forever, and even if they do, they will sleep at some time. Only the smallest perimeter can be monitored without tech. This subject probably deserves more than one Peoplenomics article.

    • Understand, anything one does can only be a deterrent. Prevention is impossible. Anyone can buy a chainsaw or cordless Sawzall, either of which renders any door/window security, moot, because an intruder can simply make his own “door” in a window casing or even a blank wall — a process that’s much faster than trying to circumvent a stocky deadbolt or three. The trick is to make it uncomfortable enough for a random home intruder, that he “moves on” and invades someone else’s home. That sucks for your neighbor, but maintains your stuff in its proper place.

      • Very true, but noise is the one of the few enemies that these guys worry about. They want silence. If what you have is so difficult to get to and nobody has a clue where it is, it will take serious time to get to it. Yes, everything is a deterrent only, but if it takes someone a month to find your important stuff, that’s a serious benefit.

        Some guys(with brains) might move on. Others will fixate on your place and will keep coming back until they get caught or shot. You can’t secure everything always, but you certainly can make things tamper evident so that the first time they case your place you will go to condition red.

        Regardless, a strong set of concentric perimeters with monitoring will give you and others far more protection than blind ignorance. The other problem is how to suspend “civilized” behavior so as to become as low inhibition as the intruder(s). That’s necessary for an appropriate response and even avoidance, should you choose that route.

  6. Thanks, George, This piece is something unique. This is something different from the usual business plans. I really appreciate the post and will try to implement to improve my own business plan.

Comments are closed.