With the changing of the season, there are a few small business winter challenges that it just makes sense to prepare for so they don't make it hard to do business when the days get short and cold.

small business winter challenges

Here are three things to watch out for:

  1. Winter roof damage
  2. Plumbing problems
  3. Pests like bugs and rodents

Along with four things to remember:

  1. Don't forget to arrange for snow removal
  2. Don't forget to have quick access to a snow shovel
  3. Make sure your furnace is ready for the cold
  4. Arrange for a little extra attention to cleaning

Keep reading to learn more about how to prepare for winter so you can seamlessly navigate the end of this year and the beginning of next.

I don’t know if it’s really the changing of the seasons or just coincidence, but after over 30 years in small business, it always felt like when things got colder, we experienced problems with the building where we did business and those problems became more inconvenient to fix in the cold. And, that doesn’t include the extra things you just need to remember and be aware of as the seasons change. Here are three small business winter challenges to be prepared for and four other considerations that will help your small business seamlessly get through the winter.

Be Prepared:

  1. The roof: I spent 20 years working out of a 100-year-old home that had been converted into where we conducted business. The winters in Utah tended to encourage snow and ice to go through cycles of freezing and thawing all winter long, which puts a lot of stress on old roof seams, rain gutters, and other weak points on the roof. Nothing is worse than trying to get a leaky roof fixed when it’s covered with snow and freezing cold outside. Before the temperature drops and winter gets into full swing, have your roof inspected to make sure it will survive the the colder temperatures and wet weather—particularly if you haven’t given it any attention in a while.
  2. Plumbing: This is another challenge of working out of an older building, but it could be a problem for newer buildings too. If you’ve ever had to recover from a broken sewer line to the street, you know it’s not only a mess, but expensive to repair—and isn’t very fun to clean up. I don’t know what it is about January and February, but if we ever had a plumbing problem that resulted in a flood, it seemed to happen about that time. If you have to rooter your sewer line on a regular basis, consider it a red flag. It could be worth having a plumber scope your line to the street to make sure you don’t have any bulging pipes, roots, or other obstructions that could be the harbinger of a potential failure when the temperature drops, the ground is frozen, and it’s a pain to clean up the resulting flood. The cost of repairing a line to the street could be a few thousand dollars, so identifying a potential problem before it’s a crisis, will allow you to prepare financially before it happens; and maybe even take proactive steps before a failure.
  3. Pests: As the seasons change from summer to autumn, it’s a cue to everything that lives outside that it’s time to move inside. That includes spiders and other insects (we had to battle box elder bugs every year), field mice, or maybe even rats—which are not only pests, they could pose a health issue. Fortunately, there are services available that will come to your place of business on a regular basis to help you keep insects and other pests under control. They will also be able to help you identify where rodents like field mice or rats could gain entrance to your business so you can take proactive steps to make it a little more difficult for them to enter.

Things to Remember:

  1. Snow Removal: You may or may not be responsible for snow removal in your parking lot, but the first big snow storm is not the time to be scrambling so your customers can do business with you. If you don’t happen to do business out of a strip mall and have a standalone business, it’s not too early to start looking for someone to plow snow in your parking lot. Depending on the size of your lot, it could cost a few hundred dollars every time the snow flies, but it’s well worth the cost to ensure your customers can access your business rain or shine.
  2. A Snow Shovel: If you’ve ever had to clear a couple of inches of snow from the entrance of your building with a broom, you’ll never forget to have a snow shovel in place again. Believe me, I know of what I speak. Even if the entrance to your business is small, a snow shovel is cheap insurance to keep the entryway free and clear. Don’t forget the ice-melt either. You certainly don’t want one of your customers (or employees) to slip and fall entering or exiting your place of work.
  3. The Furnace: Don’t wait until the first cold day of the season to see if your furnace is working. It’s well worth the few dollars it will likely cost to have a heating/air conditioning contractor inspect and service your furnace for the season. Both your employees and the customers that visit your place of business will thank you.
  4. Cleaning: If you do business in a place that sees a little snow, you understand that employees and customers can track in a little more mess than normal. To keep your place of business clean and in shape, you’ll likely not be able to wait until the end of the day before you clean up—regardless of whether or not you have a cleaning crew. Be prepared to sweep or mop up the floors near entryways to prevent damage from the wet and the salt. You might even opt for an additional rug or mat to help make entry to your business safe and slip-proof on the inside.

Many small businesses are preparing for their busiest season right now. Taking a little time to ensure you’re ready for the winter might not guarantee you’ll avoid some of the challenges of the cold and snow, but it will help you be better prepared and able to navigate the challenges of the season.

What are some of the things you do to get ready for the snow and cold?

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