The coronavirus and small business impact is on the horizon. The worldwide impact of the coronavirus, or Covid-19, is undeniable. Cases of infection have reached 95,748 this week along with 3,286 worldwide deaths attributed to the virus. Cases in the U.S. have grown to 128 confirmed cases with a number of deaths also attributed to the virus (11).
So far, I think we’ve been pretty lucky.
Wild swings in the stock market, along with companies like Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft telling their Seattle employees to work from home, suggest that the economic costs are also not only real, but yet to be completely determined.
A Facebook spokesperson said, “We’ve notified our employees and are following the advice of public health officials to prioritize everyone’s health and safety.”
“We are recommending that employees in Seattle/Bellevue who are able to work from home do so through the end of the month,” an Amazon spokesperson said.
While these four tech companies are probably doing the right thing, the nature of their businesses allow many of their employees to be still fairly efficient working from home. That isn’t realistically the situation for millions of small businesses across the country.
Small Businesses Make Lemonade Out of Lemons
Small business owners are a resilient bunch and we should be impressed with how they are facing the health crisis. Despite the potential human and economic costs, and the anxiety that comes along with it, U.S. small business owners are still optimistic.
Barbara Sibley, for example, a restaurateur in New York, has made her 150 employees the priority. Like many small business owners, she recognizes the importance of keeping her employees informed. She argues that facts help and panic does not. Because of that, she’s doing everything she can to support her employees so they can take care of their health. “It’s about listening,” she tells Hannah Howard from New York Magazine. “If someone is super anxious, maybe they shouldn’t work that day, and that’s okay.”
She added that she “…went through 9/11, Hurricane Sandy, two blackouts, the recession in 2008 … and just like for this, my strategy is community care. New Yorkers are resilient.”
Small Business is Not in this Alone
Lawmakers in Washington DC agree that the potential of the coronavirus spreading across the United States could have consequences and cause stress to the millions of small business owners that employ roughly half of the country. As a result, they have included $20 million that will be made available to fund administrative expenses for loans to U.S. small businesses in the $8.3 billion emergency spending package approved on March 4.
The bi-partisan legislation passed the House overwhelmingly. President Trump has said he would sign whatever legislation Congress approves.
Optimism Isn’t Carelessness — What Should You Be Doing?
If you’re looking to protect your business from disruption and keeping employees and customers safe, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a series of recommendations for small businesses to help fortify your workplace against the coronavirus:
- Actively encourage sick employees to stay home
- Separate sick employees
- Emphasize staying home when sick, respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene by all employees
- Perform routine environmental cleaning
- Advise employees before traveling to take precautions
Not too many years ago one of my grandsons was in the bathroom singing the ABCs at the top of his lungs (he was a preschooler at the time). When he came down to join the family again I asked him why he was singing in the bathroom. He replied, “Our teacher told us if we sang the ABCs while we were washing our hands in the bathroom, it would be the perfect amount of time to make sure our hands were good and clean.”
I thought that was pretty good advice for a preschooler then and really good advice for all of us now. It’s often the simple solutions that yield the greatest results and will offer the greatest protection.
Please keep in mind this information is changing rapidly and is based on our current understanding of the programs. It can and likely will change. Although we will be monitoring and updating this as new information becomes available, please do not rely solely on this for your financial decisions. We encourage you to consult with your lawyers, CPAs and Financial Advisors. To review your real-time funding options with one of Nav’s lending experts, please contact us.
This article was originally written on March 6, 2020 and updated on October 20, 2020.