Extreme Weather & Your Business  

As David Brinkley once said; “A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks that others throw at him”, however sometimes the bricks thrown are not from other people but from forces beyond our control. For those who operate a business in areas of high weather risk such as around the Pacific Ring of Fire or East Coast USA, business continuity is a high priority as the financial damage is far greater. Here are a few things to consider if you operate from an area with potentially extreme weather;
Customers - Depending on the nature of your clients and your business, how this is considered will vary. If you own a shop and a blizzard is in action, naturally there will be less people on the streets and visiting your store (unless you stock snow supplies, in which case, you are probably in luck!). If your clients are more internal, then your continuity depends on their ability to travel to the office. If your clientele are internet based, then continuity depends on both their and your own ability to access the internet, which relies on a successful internet connection and of course a functioning source of electricity.
Travel - if your staff have to travel to and from your business then obviously their safety is a priority. The problem here is that if you spend too much of your efforts protecting your staff from potential accidents then you might not have anybody to continue productivity, and to find the balance that weighs slightly on the side of caution towards staff safety is difficult. As with staff illnesses, try not to rely too heavily on one or two particular members of your team and make sure that everybody's work can be picked up and completed by a different member of staff in the circumstance that they can't travel to the office.
Importing and Exporting - Depending on what your product is and what resources you require to produce it, if the delivery companies are not operating then it can have serious ramifications on your work. If you are stuck in a stalemate and are physically unable to provide your product to your market, a little bit of communication, where possible, to your customers goes a long way. Again, if your product is internet based, this can still be a problem in bad weather due to power shortages and connectivity issues.
Money - The Polar Vortex that hit in 2014 cost the US economy over $5bn with most flight companies reporting losses of between $50m and $100m due to cancellations. It goes without saying that a decrease in productivity has a negative impact on your revenue. If bad weather is uncommon where you set up your business, you may just have to sit out the storm, but if it's a yearly expectation make sure you are prepared and financially ready for the occasional dip in income.
Property - If your local weather can be seriously destructive then spending a little more on a suitable building for your business could potentially save you a lot of money in the long term. If you set up a business in an area of seismic activity, make sure to have an earthquake resistant building. If your business is located near a river that frequently bursts its banks, ensure both your business and your property is safe against flooding.
It pays to have a strong continuity plan based on the local conditions and to have this clearly communicated to your staff. Always keep an eye on weather forecasts and, in the circumstance that strong weather is approaching, be sure to have a short term plan specifically tailored to the circumstances to make sure that you come out still standing strong on the other side.