Monday Motivation: was your business ready for the snow?

With snow over some of the UK last week and more forecast, how can you protect your business and minimise the impact? Businesses with a plan are better able to weather the storm, so it pays to have one in place.

In the news, research shows small businesses are paying out significant amounts on tax compliance and in the office the use of technology, from social media to biotechnology, continues to grow.

Top news stories

Small businesses suffering from £10 billion hidden taxes

The Association of Accounting Technicians found that small businesses currently spend approximately £9.9 billion each year on tax compliance, compared to the £100m that larger firms pay.

1 in 4 small businesses don’t use business plan

New research from Barclays reveals that one in four small businesses don’t have any strategy in place to support their business growth and less than half  have a formal business plan that is written down or recorded.

Small business energy customers are treated as second-class citizens

The recent high-profile energy price cuts only apply to the standard tariffs that the energy companies offer to their household customers.

Would you consider microchipping your employees?

Epicenter, a new hi-tech office block in Sweden, is ditching swipe cards and implanting chips in its employees.

Tweeting in a meeting

Almost three quarters of social media users are now checking their news feeds on their smartphones during meetings, according to a new poll.

Key dates for your diary

No important dates this week.

Snow business: how to minimise the impact of bad weather

Bad weather and snow showers can have a major impact on businesses, from staff missing work to a drop in sales. In the winter of 2013, adverse weather was estimated to have cost UK businesses £470 million a day.

However, research shows that many businesses underestimate the impact. Research by the Chartered Management Institute shows that despite severe weather being the top cause of business disruption, some companies still don’t have plans to deal with it.

Make sure you’re not one of them - a plan will ensure your business is ready and the impact is minimised.

Protecting your employees

It can be hard to find a balance between ensuring you have enough staff on-site and understanding that some people may find it difficult to get into work or may be significantly delayed.

Make sure you have a policy in place and communicate with your employees so they know what is expected.

If you can offer flexible working, consider letting employees work from home to minimise time lost through travel delays or due to childcare issues because of school closures. Be sure that where possible all your employees are offered the same level of flexibility.

Ensuring your property is safe for staff and visitors

As a business owner, it’s your responsibility to ensure your property is safe. You’ll need to ensure your premises and any car parks or access routes are clear of snow, ice or other slip hazards. This might include gritting paths, clearing snow or closing hazardous routes.

You’ll also need to make sure your premises are sufficiently warm. Although there is no specific minimum temperature, the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 says that, ‘during working hours, the temperature in all workplaces inside buildings shall be reasonable.’ This is usually interpreted as 16℃ unless you carry out manual work or the work areas must be chilled or heated as part of a production process.

Try to anticipate the impact on sales

For some businesses, the snow will have little effect on sales. However, if customers find it hard to get to your store or if the demand for your goods or services is affected by poor weather, there will be an impact.

Try to minimise this by encouraging people to buy from you by offering incentives. You could also look at promoting remote ways of buying, such as by phone or online, to let customers shop without venturing out into the cold.

It’s not all bad news though. Some seasonal businesses will see a boost in sales, as customers buy items like sledges or stockpile goods for the cold snap.

The best way to predict the impact is to look at past sales figures during other times of poor weather. Weather Underground offers historical data by postcode if you can’t remember when poor conditions hit.