5 Strategies to Build Climate Resilience for Florida Businesses

Feli Oliveros

For decades, Florida has been subject to climate change—and the unprecedented climate disasters accompanying it. In 2022, natural disasters caused $313 billion in economic losses worldwide, with Hurricane Ian causing $96 billion in damages alone.

To protect themselves from the physical and financial impacts of climate change, companies in Florida must learn to adjust to these new circumstances. The problem? Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) often struggle to keep up with the demands of their organizations, so they may lack the bandwidth to take on new initiatives like climate adaptation and resilience. 

If you have limited resources and even less time to dedicate to new projects, this guide will show you a few steps you can take to protect your Florida business from climate change. Here, we’ll look at:

How will climate change affect businesses in Florida?

Because of its location and climate, Florida is much more susceptible to the dangers of climate change than any other state in the country. 

A 2023 survey conducted by Florida Atlantic University found that 77% of Florida residents experienced at least one weather hazard in the previous 12 months, including flooding (47%) and strong winds from hurricanes or tornadoes (67%). And according to findings from the Urban Land Institute, Southeast Florida alone could see a 17-inch rise in sea level by 2040—and lose $4.2 billion in property values in the process.

Climate change in Florida also tends to manifest through intense heat waves and shortages of natural resources. Together, these climate hazards damage property, interrupt supply chains, and harm workers and customers in the state. 

Compared to multinational enterprises, small and midsized businesses in Florida don’t have capital and resources to fall back on if they experience climate threats or extreme weather events. And as we saw during the COVID-19 pandemic, reliance on global supply chains, labor, and business relationships means that companies can be impacted by climate hazards on the other side of the world. 

If your business operates in Florida, you may be especially vulnerable to climate change. But by planning for these risks and implementing certain strategies, like the ones described in the next section, you can better protect your company from climate hazards in your area.

What strategies can Florida businesses use to increase their climate resilience?

For Florida businesses, climate change is just as detrimental as running out of capital or hiring the wrong people. Preparing for the risks you may face ahead of time can reduce the harm that climate threats can cause your business. 

In addition to more conventional climate change initiatives like prioritizing sustainability and reducing your company’s carbon footprint, here are five other ways to protect your company from climate change risks and extreme weather events. 

1. Protect your infrastructure and physical assets

Your first order of business is to ensure your company’s operations, even in the face of climate change or an extreme weather event. 

Start by strengthening your existing infrastructure. Look for ways to make your buildings more heat- and flood-resistant, and install measures like storm shutters and sump pumps to protect your physical assets and inventory from floods. If you have a new build planned, ensure it is energy-efficient and has up-to-date protections against future climate risks. 

You’ll also want to think about how you’ll protect your business infrastructure during a climate emergency. This might involve increasing your business insurance coverage or purchasing a more comprehensive policy. Consider investing in onsite energy-generating facilities, like solar panels or backup generators, as well. 

2. Secure your inventory and supply chain

Whether you operate locally or globally, you’ll need to protect your business from supply chain disruptions too. 

Diversify your supply chains so your company isn’t reliant on any one region or supplier for its production efforts. You might work mostly with local vendors or source suppliers from different areas to ensure that you won’t have to shut down your operations even if a natural disaster occurs in one region. Find alternative suppliers for the resources and materials you need and begin building relationships with them now. 

Product-focused businesses should also shore up their inventory and resources in case of supply chain issues. 

Many companies are reverting to a “just in time” approach to inventory management in an effort to keep costs low and hold on to only the inventory they need. But Florida businesses that are especially vulnerable to climate change issues should consider maintaining an inventory surplus to keep their momentum going even if other parts of their operations are disrupted. 

3. Use technology to reduce your climate risk

Understanding your company’s climate vulnerabilities helps you develop better adaptation and continuity plans, so it’s important to take advantage of all the tools available to you.

For starters, small and medium-sized businesses can use climate technology and data analytics to better understand how climate risks affect their organizations. Climate change models and other science-based tools allow business owners to accurately determine their company’s level of risk in the event of hurricanes, floods, and other extreme weather conditions. 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) allows you to track developing storms in your area with its Hi-Def Radar Viewer. You can use it to learn whether a weather hazard is growing in intensity, for example, or if it’s moving toward or away from your city. In addition to the webpage version of the radar tracker, the NOAA also offers a mobile app for Apple and Android smartphones. 

Additionally, dedicated climate risk assessment tools can point out which areas of your business are especially vulnerable to climate change events and what specific threats to protect against. Risk reports customized to your business can be especially helpful in determining how you should use your resources to make the greatest impact. 

4. Work with other businesses and organizations in the community 

A report from the SME Climate Hub revealed that a lack of climate skills and knowledge (58%) and a lack of funds (55%) prevent many small and midsized businesses from taking more ambitious action on climate change. 

Due to their limited knowledge and resources, it can be especially beneficial for SMBs to share information, pool money and resources, and lobby for government aid and public policies together with others in their community. Connect with climate change experts, business support organizations, government agencies, and other business owners to discover new ways to protect your business. 

You can advocate for a greater voice in community conversations by organizing with like-minded business owners. This can lead to more government resources for SMBs, more comprehensive climate data and recommendations from expert communities, and more public policies created with local business owners in mind.

5. Set up multiple strategies for more protection

The more climate resilience strategies you implement, the greater your business’s protection against extreme weather conditions. 

Think of it like the safety features built into a car. Each one is designed to protect against a certain kind of risk. On its own, a seatbelt may not provide the protection you’d like from a car crash. But when you combine a seatbelt with airbags and blind spot warnings, you have a system of safety features that provides extensive collision protection in various situations.  

If you’re limited in resources or time, consider deploying the strategies that protect your business’s most important or most vulnerable parts first. If you’re unsure what areas those might be, use the following process to identify your organization’s biggest climate risks and create a plan to address them. 

How to create a climate adaptation plan for your business

Although research from Deloitte shows that climate change and extreme weather events impact 70% of all economic sectors worldwide, only 17% of CEOs have taken action to protect their companies against the physical impacts of climate change.

This means that implementing a climate adaptation plan doesn’t just protect your business—it can also give your company a competitive advantage that attracts more customers and investors. Here’s how to get started. 

Identify climate change risks and opportunities

To kick off your climate adaptation plan, first identify areas in your business that will be affected by the short-term and long-term effects of climate change in your region. 

Find out what climate risks pose the biggest threats to your business, what parts of your business are critical for maintaining operations, and what you need to keep those areas running in the event of a climate disaster. Also take into account your company’s physical location, the area surrounding your business, and the community where your business is located.

Say your company is located in a coastal region with a high risk of flooding. Your inventory is stored in a warehouse next to your office, so to protect your supply you might decide to invest in floodproofing for the entire building. In the meantime, however, you’ll move your inventory to a room on your office’s second floor. 

In some cases, climate change can also present new opportunities for businesses. A study conducted in 2021 showed that companies that invested in green innovation initiatives gained a competitive advantage from their efforts. 

So, consider whether these opportunities are present for your business—and if so, how to take advantage of them.

You might start by adapting your current business model or investigating new technologies to create more value for your customers and the greater community. Or, look for ways to adapt your products or services so they help customers protect themselves from climate change too. Take inspiration from the businesses that have already developed climate change-resistant construction materials, hardier seed varieties, more sustainable ways to use natural resources, and more. 

Create an action plan for your business

Use the information from the previous step (and the climate resilience strategies described earlier) to build a plan that protects your business against climate change and maintains operations during extreme climate events. 

What specific actions will you take to reduce your climate risk? Will you invest in more efficient heating and cooling systems? Diversify your offerings? Relocate your business further inland?

As you set your goals for your climate adaptation plan, consider what aspects of your company culture, budget, and operations need to be adjusted to meet your objectives. Don’t forget to lay out the timeline and steps your organization will take to increase your company’s climate resilience. 

You may also want to create a climate disaster recovery and continuity plan to keep your business operational during a natural disaster. Take advantage of resources like Ready.gov, which helps business owners prepare their company for natural and manmade disasters with toolkits, emergency plans, and training exercises. 

Implement your climate resilience strategy 

Once you draw up your climate adaptation plan, you and your leadership team must prioritize it in all future decisions if you want to ensure its execution. 

Set regular check-in meetings with participating team members to assess your company’s progress on its climate resilience goals. This will be especially important on smaller teams where employees are responsible for moving the plan forward in addition to their daily responsibilities. If there are any issues or obstacles to address, make sure to do so during these meetings. 

As you move further along on your climate adaptation plan, continue to build relationships and collaborate with other businesses, support organizations, and government agencies at the community, regional, and national levels. Look out for additional information and resources you can use to fine-tune your climate resilience plan.

Protect your business by protecting your employees 

As you might imagine, the strategies and planning described above can take months or even years to implement. However, you can strengthen your company’s climate defenses relatively quickly by protecting your workforce first.

One way to do so is by prioritizing safe working conditions for your workers. A report from the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) found that more Americans die from heat exposure than from any other weather-related event. So, if your business has employees working outside during their shifts, you might ask supervisors to monitor their working conditions and move everyone indoors if outside temperatures reach a certain level.

You can also support employees with resources that protect their physical, mental, and financial well-being if they are displaced or lose income due to climate disasters. 

Gusto makes this easier by helping you create a comprehensive employee benefits program that takes the needs of your workforce into account. Then, use our software to enroll in a workers’ compensation policy that gives you greater peace of mind. Request a demo today to learn more about these features. 

Feli Oliveros Feli Oliveros is a freelance finance and business writer with experience covering personal and small business finance. In 2015 she graduated from UCLA, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in English and minored in Anthropology.
Back to top