Extreme weather is a “real threat” to businesses

Bad weather poses a real threat to business, according to The Open University Business School.

The latest Quarterly Survey of Small Business in Britain examines how SMEs deal with various “external shocks”, including extreme weather events, and what factors contribute to business survival and resilience following a serious external event.

The survey of 1,353 business owners, conducted during October and November 2013 before the more recent storms and flooding that hit the country over Christmas found that 27 per cent of respondents believe that extreme weather conditions have “posed a real threat” over the last five years.

Nearly three quarters (73 per cent) of the businesses identified at least one external threat in this period. The most commonly identified threats over this period were the credit crunch and unstable market conditions , which were each identified by 44% of businesses.

Our survey highlights the impact of extreme weather events on many of our small and medium-sized businesses. The scale of the response is striking; whilst many businesses felt that they have improved their crisis response as a result of these events, it is evident that many others have suffered in the long term,” says Dr Richard Blundel, editor of the report.

In addition to the changes that business owners can make to increase resilience, respondents felt that some of the most important factors to longevity were: developing authority, skills and initiative in staff to manage unfolding events; maintaining relatively low fixed costs and/or minimal debt; and, if possible, identify potential risks in advance to create an action plan.

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