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Future Prep: The Climate Change Guide for Coastal Small Business Owners

In the past 50 years, Louisiana saw its sea levels rise by eight inches. Many portions of the state disappeared beneath the water. 

But Louisiana isn’t the only state experiencing the devastating effects of climate change. Other coastal areas are also susceptible to global warming’s effects.

For company owners, understanding climate changes’ consequences means the difference between success and failure.  

If you own a business on the coast, it’s important to understand how the future will impact you. Find out what to expect in the coming years and what you can do to stay afloat. 

The Effects of Climate Change on Coastal Businesses

Many people hold onto the illusion that climate change is a distant thing. However, the truth is much more frightening — it’s right at our doorstep. 

Over 2,000 miles of wetlands in Louisiana are now submerged. Coral reefs are dying at an alarming rate. And the recent slew of hurricanes gives even the most skeptic people cause to hesitate. 

The future holds several obstacles for companies on the coast, but entrepreneurs who think ahead and prepare for climate change set themselves and their employees up for success.

Insurance

One major consequence business owners should expect is hiked insurance prices. Because coastal cities are susceptible to flooding and storms, expect the price of insurance to continue soaring. 

To allay the costs, compare the National Flood Insurance Program’s prices to prices from private insurance companies. In addition, don’t allow your policy to lapse. Doing so may result in higher premiums.

Healthcare

Climate change also impacts healthcare costs. Air pollution alone causes over 7 million deaths annually, and experts expect that number to climb.

In coastal cities with large populations and tourist attractions, more illnesses and severe-weather injuries will increase healthcare costs for employers and individuals. 

Consider group health insurance plans or stipends to replace insurance. However, avoid eliminating healthcare for your employees unless you have no other choice; the consequences of not purchasing it are more costly due to absenteeism and productivity. 

Absenteeism

Increased heat and more bad weather may lead to more call-offs. In fact, it’s expected that climate change will reduce productivity by as much as 25 percent in the next three decades. 

Much of this projection is due to excessive heat, which makes some work unsafe. With added storms or severe weather, absenteeism will likely increase. 

To offset this issue, continue providing healthcare at all costs and have clear expectations regarding extreme weather and call-offs.  

Revenue

Coastal activities bring in almost 60 percent of the US’s gross domestic product. They also are tourist destinations, which accounts for most of a coastal business’s revenue. 

However, climate change’s impacts on weather (more storms, precipitation, and flooding) might discourage planned vacations or cause continual damage.

Dangerous weather results in fewer tourists and, in some cases, temporary shutdowns.  

As a result, revenue decreases. 

But there is good news. Europe’s tourism industry is a good indicator of how consumers will handle climate change. Rather than abandoning tourist attractions altogether, families and individuals seem to change the times of the year they vacation. 

Successful business owners should plan for different busy and slow seasons and keep funds in reserve for bad weather. 

Loans

Banks are now starting to consider environmental factors when creating loan portfolios. In areas prone to climate changes’ effects, such as the coasts, this may mean it eventually becomes difficult to obtain a loan.

Although this is a slow process and banks are only beginning to understand what this may mean for borrowers, it is something that banks across the globe now consider. 

This is serious enough that the European government is considering forcing banks to share their climate risk management and disclosures.  

Coastal businesses must ensure they please banks in other areas if securing a loan. Contemplate:

  • Keeping your debt-to-income ratio low
  • Building a dazzling credit score
  • Personally investing in the business
  • Having collateral 

By demonstrating your company is reputable and stable, banks are more likely to provide loans. This offsets any negative consequences of coastal hazards.

Workplace Accidents

Europe’s heat wave may have shown experts what to expect in regards to tourism, but it also demonstrated how adversely temperatures affect people. 

Be ready for consumers or workers to face obstacles presented by the weather, such as heatstroke. Have regular training instructing employees about what to do in such instances. 

Have injury prevention plans in place and keep emergency kits on hand. 

Storms Preparedness

For coastal areas, the increasing temperature of the ocean means an increase in the number of storms. 

To weather the storm (literally), future owners should prepare their buildings to withstand heavy winds and precipitation.

Make repairs and changes now. To prepare, check for:

  • Flood prevention measures
  • Durable roof material
  • Leaks
  • Outside hazards, such as trees near the building
  • Reliable storm shutters 

Check your building regularly to maintain it so it is always weather-ready.

Have checklists on-hand and regular training so that employees know exactly what to do to protect the company if a storm comes.

In addition, consider ways to move your business online if the need arises. Today’s technology may provide some businesses with the means to continue their services this way. 

Planning for Precipitation

Extra rain or snow are also side effects of climate change. Know the dangers associated with each and have the proper rugs, salt and other equipment on hand to keep the weather in check. 

Shop around for the best priced snowplowing contracts. Searching in the summer months usually yields better results and lower prices.

If you rent, ensure you include or agree to details in your lease agreement about damages caused by flooding or other natural disasters. 

Finally, have plans in place for coming or unexpected natural disasters. 

Create emergency bags and keep non-perishable foods on hand in case employees must stay overnight. You can order many of these items through a survival gear store.

Security

Experts agree global warming currently impacts crop yields. In the future, researchers expect food shortages and water scarcity to get worse. 

Contemplate increasing security measures now and inquiring about long-term contracts with shipping companies, as prices of goods will increase. 

Out of the Frying Pan

Many coastal companies may feel as if they’ve jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire. Owning a business on the coast comes with many perks, but the future also contains several obstacles. 

Know how climate change will affect your business so you are adequately prepared. 

But climate change isn’t the only outside factor impacting companies. The China Trade War has impacted numerous business, and yours may be next. 

Find out if you’re at risk in our article, and keep Benjamin Franklin’s point in mind: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” 

Success requires nothing more than planning.