5 External Factors that Affect Your Small Business

The business world is complex and ever-changing. Rarely are things ever cut and dry. You can offer the best prices in town and excellent customer service, but sales can be affected by external factors that are completely out of your control.

Here are five factors that may be working for or against your business.

1. The Weather

You may not realize it, but the weather can have a profound effect on your business's performance.

In some industries, weather plays an obvious role in the sales equation. Vacation resorts may have slower seasons if the weather is unfavorable. Hurricanes and snow storms may keep customers away for extended periods of time.

Natural disasters can also cause complications if your business faces physical damages.

Even less obvious industries can be affected by weather. Clothing retail stores may have slow sales in the fall if warm weather sticks around. No one is interested in buying scarves, heavy coats and boots if it's still 75 degrees and sunny most days.

2. The Economy

The economy is a more obvious external factor that will affect your business, but it is still a factor that you will have little control over. A change in the political landscape, wars, terrorist attacks, currency devaluation and a poor job market can send the economy tumbling.

A poor economic climate will make it more difficult to reach your sales goals.

Even oil prices can affect your business's performance. The cost of goods may increase and you may see less foot traffic if gas prices are higher.

Unfortunately, when the economy takes a turn for the worse, many small businesses wind up closing their doors.

3. Market Trends

Market trends will also affect your business's performance. Sure, you spend a large percentage of your budget on marketing in hopes of influencing trends in the market. But again, this is an area where you don't have total control.

The products you sell may be loved today, hated tomorrow and loved again in a few months. Trends come and go, and you need to be prepared to weather these changes.

4. Laws and Regulations

Changes in local, state and federal laws can have a direct impact on your business. If your products or services are outlawed, you may need to rethink your strategy or close shop. More regulations may also mean higher costs for your business.

Small businesses rarely have much influence over laws and regulations, so it's important to keep on top of proposed laws and regulations that may affect your business. If you're prepared to change strategies, you can minimize the blow or avoid it entirely.

5. Infrastructure Changes

Zoning changes, highway construction and housing developments can all impact your business for better or worse. A new shopping center may put you out of business, or attract more foot traffic to your establishment.

New housing developments are generally good news for nearby businesses, as it increases the number of potential customers.

As for zoning regulations, it's important to keep on top of proposed amendments to plan for changes or fight back against unfavorable changes.

Filed under: Regulations

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