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10 Lessons From Weather for Life and Retail

You’re accustomed to having seasonal weather impact your operation’s sales, but have you thought about the lessons you can learn from storms and sunny days alike? Weather is unpredictable, and the elements you can’t control provide reminders that are applicable to life and retail, if you pay attention.

Here are 10 lessons you can learn from the weather.

1. You are not in control.
Have you considered that it’s a good thing you can’t control the weather? The world and nature are so much bigger than your daily grind. Pause and be thankful for reminders that the weight of the world isn’t on your shoulders. You’re not responsible for the elements you can’t control. You can prepare and respond, but you can’t bring about sunny days or prevent violent hurricanes. Give yourself time to reflect and understand there are some things in life that are out of your hands.

2. Too much of a good thing is a bad thing.
If you find yourself wishing for more snowstorms so you can sell all of the snowblowers and generators you have in stock, then keep in mind that what benefits your business can harm others. Think big picture and remember that moderation tends to be better for everyone. Extremes may be good for your business, but they can be expensive and challenging for other people in your community. What’s bad for your community will become bad for your business in the long term.

3. Adapt to your climate and be respectful of everyone else’s.
As you meet other retailers in the industry who live in other states or countries, keep in mind that your problems aren’t bigger than theirs. You likely have a lot of challenges in common, but you can each adapt to the climate you have and respectfully acknowledge that everyone’s business challenges are legitimate. Affirming and respecting each other will turn other retailers into allies and friends.

4. You can prepare wisely.
Just because you can’t control the weather doesn’t mean you can’t prepare for whatever comes. Pay attention to weather forecasts and communicate with your wholesalers about how much product to stock and how long it might take for deliveries to come through if a storm becomes an emergency. Distributors are getting better at using predictive technology, so ask questions and be open to advice about when and how to prepare.

5. Preparation is not the same thing as prevention.
Again, you’re not in control, so don’t expect to be. You can prepare as much as possible, but you need to adjust when the weather isn’t what you expect. You cannot prevent ice storms or tornadoes, but you can pay attention to what’s happening in your community, plan ahead as best you can and then accept that your plans won’t be perfect. Focus on adapting daily to serve the needs of your community. People matter more than sales.

6. Weather forecasters aren’t always right and neither are you.
The next time you feel frustrated because a meteorologist’s forecast fell short, stop what you’re doing. Forecasters can’t control the weather, and they’re predicting what can change quickly. They make mistakes and so do you. Let their forecasts that aren’t quite right remind you that everyone has failures. Don’t forget that you have your own history of errors, and yours just might not be as public.

7. Control what you can control.
You can’t control the weather, but you can control what types of business insurance you carry, how well you document the value of your equipment and how carefully you track inventory. Don’t be lazy about basic steps you can build into your normal processes, such as backing up your computer files on a cloud platform. You may never need the flood insurance you pay for, or perhaps you will need it one day. The weather is unpredictable, but you don’t have to be.

8. What you don’t know can hurt you.
When you talk with insurance agents, accountants and other professionals, ask them about best practices in the areas they specialize in. For example, when negotiating policy pricing, ask your insurance agent questions about how to prevent, respond to and recover from fires. Professionals have seen more than you have and can mention common, preventable mistakes business owners make. The more you know, the less caught off guard you’ll be if lightning strikes.

9. All circumstances change.
Weather changes frequently, and so do your life and business circumstances. Ride out the storms. Expect good trends to change and hard ones to improve. Be actively prepared for sunshine to turn into rain and rain to turn into sunshine. If you get stuck in the rain without an umbrella, you may end up being stuck in wet clothes when you see the rainbow later. Nothing is static. There’s good and bad in that. Expect both.

10. Enjoy the beautiful days when you get them.
Don’t take the days with beautiful weather for granted, even if you see a lot of them. Often, people take lovely weather in a stride and then complain about what it’s like the rest of the year. Take time to be thankful. You’ll be happier, and so will the employees and customers around you.

About Kate Klein

Kate Klein
Kate is an assistant editor for Hardware Retailing magazine. She reports on news and industry events. She graduated from Cedarville University in her home state of Ohio, where she earned a bachelor's degree in English and minored in creative writing. She loves being an aunt, teaching writing to kids, running, reading long books, farm living and, as Walt Whitman says, traveling the open road, “healthy, free, the world before me.”

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