Recent extremely low temperatures, blizzards and blowing snow have created challenges for businesses and consumers alike in many parts of the country. This includes power failures, burst pipes and disruptions in transportation.

If your small business relies heavily on products being delivered to consumers and employees getting to work, the weather can have a huge impact on your sales. Customers also tend to purchase differently under extreme weather circumstances and their spending habits will tend to be more conservative. Depending on the type of business you own, you need to take into consideration how your customers buy during adverse weather conditions.

Unless your business is totally online, if your customers can’t get out and get to you, your business will suffer. Even if the roads are cleared, when the temperature gets too low, certain products can’t be delivered. Agricultural products are obvious ones but many other items don’t hold up well under very cold conditions, even when the truck trailers are heated.

Bad weather is also destructive. Ice damages buildings and roads, sidewalks aren’t safe to be walked on, liability insurance costs increase. Business owners can’t predict the weather and if they make the mistake of keeping too much inventory, what may have looked like a good deal at the time, can backfire on them badly.

Your customers may decide to cut back on spending when their heating costs increase and this will include your services unless you happen to be running a business that includes snow removal. If your business is weather sensitive, it’s a good idea to keep this in mind all year long and prepare for any shortcomings ahead of time.

If you provide a standard product or service all year round, innovation will become more important. How can you make your product or service available in ways that it will be needed at any time of the year? Once you do this, can you ensure delivery to your customers during the worst weather?

While orders online may increase over brick and mortar shopping when the weather is at its worst, only certain items can be delivered under these conditions. Make sure your business isn’t vulnerable because your products can’t stand up to the coldest temperatures. Obviously, you, as a business owner, can’t control the weather but you can make sure you’re in a position to weather the proverbial storm.

One of the longest running “businesses”, which is popular all year round, is The Farmer’s Almanac, in circulation since 1792.

© Chris Draper, DemGen Inc. 2015