Start your Own Weather Consulting Business?

04   Apr ,  2012 | 10
comments

Starting your own weather consulting business can be both rewarding and frustrating at the same time.   It’s a very cyclical business with lots of ups and downs, but I think it’s worth exploring of yet another avenue for your meteorology career.

In my previous post, I discussed how weather risk will be a growing sector in the “Future of Meteorology.”  As companies begin to realize how weather affects their operations (and bottom line), I believe more of them will reach out to weather vendors or consultants for their needs.

I think there is plenty of business out there for weather consultants.  But it requires some major “thinking outside the box.”   I think you need to demonstrate to a lot of companies what “value” your weather services can bring to them.  They want to know two things:

1) How you can save them money?  or 2) How you can make them money?

Here’s what I would do first.   I would pick a focus.  Do you like forecasting the weather for Agriculture? Or maybe you like drinking wine and Vineyards would be a great sector within Ags?  This is a huge market and very fragile one given how many farmers, producers, end-users of ag products depend on the weather.  Plus it’s their livelihood at stake.

Or maybe you like helping small to medium sized businesses?

For example, do you know someone personally that owns a retail shop…or perhaps an ice cream company, a golf course, or maybe a construction company  (any small to medium size business that depends on the weather)? Have them sign on to your weather service for “free”.   Free clients are great in the beginning.  You can put them in your “portfolio” as a client and you can showcase what value you bring to them to present to other potential “paying” clients.

Now what will your weather service be?   Well, I think you should start by having conversations with these businesses.  Ask them how the weather affects their bottom line?  Would knowing the weather ahead of time be able to plan their operations more efficiently?  Or perhaps they may need to be alerted of severe weather in the area?  Or additionally they might need weather insurance solutions in case it “rains” and less people will come into their store?   You should have an answer to all of their “weather” issues, but have “solutions” that answer the two questions I wrote above.

Take them on for free for the first month…see how they like your product….and let them give you feedback.   I’m making this sound easier than is…because a lot of small to medium businesses do not want to waste time with you unless it answers those two main questions I wrote above.  So you have to be a very savvy people person.

However, before you give any client any of your products (even for free), I would highly encourage you to incorporate first and have contracts in place with all of your clients to limit your liability.   I would also highly encourage to speak to a lawyer who can advise you with how to set up your business (ie incorporation llc vs S corp, contracts, etc).   Or you can go to my buddy’s site at LawPivot.com and ask any legal questions you’d like.

Truth be told, I’ve never owned a weather consulting business and I can only speak from having heard from friends who have.  And they tell me the following:  There are ups.  There are downs. Sometimes business is good…other times they wish they had a stable job. It’s all part of being a consultant.  You have to find that right balance.

Bottom line, owning your own weather consulting business can be very lucrative if you can find a niche market, make a lot of connections, be an excellent customer service/sales person, and be able to maintain your client base for long periods of time.

Is there a risk in starting your own consulting business?  Sure.   Should you research and have clients ready to go before you officially start?  Yes, I would.   I would do your homework first about your market and pick up the phone and have conversations with business owners.  Or even better…go visit them in person.  Show them your sample products and what value you can bring to them.  Note their feedback.

And I’d personally recommend reaching out to other weather consultants who own their own business too.  Ask them questions and see what advice they have.  Owning your weather consulting business could be your first step into your new meteorology career!

Weather consultants out there…please feel free to offer your advice and thoughts about owning your own weather consulting business…especially in the early stages.  Students, Grads, and those opting for a new career in Meteorology need all the advice and insight they can get.  Thanks! (Photo credit: Lowenit.com)

 

Posted by AJ on April 4, 2012

  • Dknollhoff

    I love this post. I am a CCM and I am curious about owning and operating my own meteorological consulting business. A big question to me right now is how much does it cost me to begin the business? What are the costs associated with the type(s) of software products, hardware tools, liability insurance, etc? GIS and AutoCad drawing softwares and purchasing multiple computer systems along with out meteorological software or computer programming softwares all combined together is a huge cost and are those really needed to begin the business. I am sure the easy answer is it depends on what products one provides. So really my initial question is what is the minimal amount of software and hardware needed to begin the business and allow itself to build upon itself?

    • Anonymous

      Hey Dknollhoff, thanks for the comment. It’s honestly a great question and probably best answered by those who have done the necessary research when starting their own weather consulting business. Hopefully they will be able to chime in further there.

      My advice would be to utilize as minimum software as possible in the beginning. Start out slow and as business picks up, then add more features and infrastructure. But in terms of cost, I wouldn’t know and would defer to other consultants. Thanks!

    • http://snowandice.com/ Rob

      The basics include your education and experience as an expert, along with a PC and internet.

      In the 30 years of my weather consulting costs have been kept low with emphasis on reliability and access for client needs.

      • Dknollhoff

        Hi Rob,

        I appreciate the reply to my questions. I did not realize costs could be so contained and limited and one only really needs a PC and internet. Great information! Thank you.

        Dave

  • Ryan

    Thanks for the insights AJ.. This blog consistently provides valuable info. to those trying to find their way in the field. Much appreciated!

    • Anonymous

      Appreciate that Ryan!

  • Slt5152

    Thanks so much. This blog is like my goto! You write about every question Ive ever had.

    • Anonymous

      Thank you! If you have any more questions…feel free to ask!

  • http://twitter.com/Chris_A_Dyke Christoher A Dyke

    Great post! I believe there are several areas that the larger weather companies are really missing the mark when providing services to businesses. There is a good saying that applies when talking about weather and business, “You don’t know what you don’t know”. I believe that many businesses know that the weather impacts them in some way, but they do not realize the full extent.

    Looking at the structure of a business there are some core activities that take place: R&D, Operations, Marketing, and Customer Service (this is sometimes referred to as the Value Chain). Depending on the type of business, weather could have an impact on each of these areas of business. R&D: Significant if you are developing a new anti-skid brake system, outdoor equipment, etc. Operations: This can be anything from commodity supply levels (in case of food, wood, etc), to logistics disruptions, to inventory risk management. Marketing: Consumer purchasing behavior, pricing strategy, advertising (depending on the product).

    For small and medium sized business, this amounts to major risks they can’t afford to take. The challenge with small business, however, is being able to provide services that can meet the businesses’ budget. With these businesses you need to understand what value you can provide them, be able to communicate it clearly and concisely, and preferably in person as small business is as much about relationships as it is business.