Be More Than Just Ready For a Harsh Winter

493px-Miniskirts_in_snow_stormAre you planning for a mild winter, or a long, cold and snowy one?

Before we get into the details of what I want to share with you, I’d like to ask one more question: What do you think is the most important word in my first question? If you think it’s one of the words related to the kind of weather that might hit your community, I’m going to deduct one point from your score today.

The important word is “planning.”

As a small business owner, you should be considering how the weather will affect your business, whether it’s a fairly mild winter or another polar-vortex-driven deep freeze like last winter. This is true for a few reasons:

  • A harsh winter can hurt many businesses, if they’re not prepared.
  • A harsh winter can enhance some businesses, if they are prepared.
  • A mild winter can be a boon for many business, if they are prepared.

Let’s look at these points from two different angles: marketing and operational.


Extended cold weather can help many small businesses. If the cold winter weather seems like it doesn’t want to end, ask yourself this question: Do I offer a product or service that will help people break the monotony of the cold, gray weather?

If you do, work this into your marketing. I’ve read several accounts of gyms that made a killing last winter because folks were going stir crazy and needed an outlet for their energy. Of course, when we’re stuck inside during a long cold winter, we also tend to put on a few extra pounds. (Anyone out there sell nutritional diet products?)

In the case of a mild, or delayed winter, those of you who own a business that relates to outdoor activities should work that theme into your promotions.

Finally, if your business has nothing to do with the weather and we end up suffering through a long winter, consider a “Beat the winter blues with a blast of super hot sale prices” ad campaign, or something similar.


If the cold weather extends beyond what is expected in an average winter or the storms that blow through are much more intense than usual, there can be impacts on the operational side of your business. Just ask the folks in Atlanta who had an unexpected snow storm pass through their area last year.

Many businesses should have contingency plans in place, especially if transportation is a factor for them. Do your employees know what to do during a winter weather emergency? If your business requires special winter supplies, such as sand or salt for deicing, be certain you have enough on hand.

Take keeping your business “open as usual” as a challenge. Be the most dependable business in the neighborhood. Some businesses, such as grocery stores and pharmacies, can deliver to elderly customers who don’t want to brave the icy roads. Maintain superb customer service during challenging weather. It will set you apart.

The most successful small businesses are those who anticipate change. We can’t always foresee the emergence of a “disruptive” technology, but we should be able to anticipate the changes in weather that come with with each of the seasons!

Sponsored by AT&T

Image: “Miniskirts in snow storm” by Unknown – wea00957, Historic NWS Collection. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.