*For the latest information on the COVID-19 outbreak, check out the World Health Organization’s website.
Wall Street is having a terrible time, Boeing is reporting massive losses, and companies like Google are asking staff to work from home.
These are all results of the global spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), but it’s far from just the huge, global businesses that are affected. Small businesses are feeling the impact too. Here’s how:
Supply Chain Breakdown
Businesses around the world import products and raw materials from China – the origin point of the COVID-19 outbreak, which has now spread to 100+ countries.
With many factories and warehouses in China temporarily suspending operations, companies worldwide are experiencing a shortage of supplies. This, in turn, means an inability to produce products, or deliver to customers on time.
The knock-on effect of not being able to make your products, is that you have nothing to sell. Naturally, this results in a company’s profits taking a huge hit – something that many small businesses may not be able to survive for an extended period of time.
Finding an alternate supplier takes time, and they may not provide the same quality of materials that your usual supplier does. There’s also a high chance that they won’t be as cheap as outsourcing to China is, especially for businesses located in North America.
Cancelled Travel Plans and Events
Dozens of countries have imposed travel restrictions on China in the past few weeks, while Italy is on lockdown. This means that many local workers cannot travel domestically, and that foreign workers are left stranded overseas. These employees are out of office indefinitely – not exactly the dream working holiday.
In addition to this, many huge sporting and social events in countries like Italy and Korea have been cancelled. This has dealt local businesses – especially bars and restaurants – a crippling blow, as these events can account for significant portions of their yearly sales.
Throw in the fact that tourism numbers are dropping (due both to travel restrictions and fear amongst would-be tourists of becoming infected), and the smaller players in the hospitality industry are set for an indefinite struggle to keep their staff employed.
Without investors, many startups fail – regardless of how brilliant their product offering is. Fears over the Coronavirus have sent stocks plummeting from historic highs, and as a result investors are spooked.
With so much uncertainty, nobody knows what’s in store for the economy and the markets. Nobody can be sure how long this volatility may last, meaning many investors are choosing to sit on their money for now.
Working From Home/School Closures
It’s not just the likes of Google that are asking workers to stay home. Many smaller workplaces are following suit.
Workers who have been asked to self-quarantine at home can become easily frustrated. They can become stressed, wondering if they may have contracted the virus. They may fear to leave their homes, or be distracted from their work by helping to care for other house-bound family members.
And it’s not just offices that are asking people to stay home, schools in virus-hit areas are also shutting down temporarily. In Italy, all schools are shut. This leaves caregivers to balance looking after their children at home while also trying to get their work done. In other cases, schools are closing but offices are remaining open. Parents are then left to seek alternate care for their kids while they’re at work…and no one knows for how long this will continue.
What Can You Do?
If you’re worried about your businesses being impacted, perhaps you’ll feel more at ease by planning ahead. Stay well stocked, maybe even locate a backup supplier and avoiding non-essential travel.
Safeguard yourself and your staff by ensuring your employees have the necessary communications structures in place to stay updated and be productive, should they need to work from home.
In summary: stay informed, be prepared, and most importantly…WASH. YOUR. HANDS!
More info: Coronavirus, Prevention & Treatment