The coronavirus pandemic has economic and social implications that our communities are already feeling. Businesses are closing for weeks at a time, economic relief packages are being created by our government, and community members are fearful for their health – and livelihood.
As a small business owner in Augusta, GA, I know that the best course of action for my business is to be visible and vocal, and to help the most vulnerable community members where I can. In this post, I want to go over what the coronavirus pandemic means economically for small businesses in Augusta, GA, what it means socially based on socioeconomic status, and how we can come together to support each other as a community.
What the Coronavirus Means Socially for At-Risk Community Members
When I say “socially,” I’m not talking about the annoyance of plans being canceled abruptly. The COVID-19 pandemic has a much deeper impact than that. For at-risk people, this disease can lead to stigma.
Think about any time you’ve heard about COVID-19. What is the reassuring point in it all?
“The death tolls are low. Only the elderly and immune-compromised are truly at risk.”
. . .
There are ENTIRE groups of people who are already being written off as lost causes. There is no relief or support for them; only social isolation, discrimination, and awaiting a virus that may or may not take their lives.
How f’ed up is that?
How about the employees who are asked to stay home who may have symptoms (or, who are being asked to stay home because their workplace is closing)?
Paid sick leave isn’t an option for everyone. Although part of the proposed economic relief package may aid in this area, it may not be enough to see all employees through, especially if they are low wage.
One in four workers in private industry do not have access to paid sick leave, and that jumps much higher for part-time workers and employees in the service industry. (LA Times, Which Economic Stimulus Ideas Will Really Help Combat Coronavirus)
For an employee who lives paycheck to paycheck, who relies on this income to pay for rent or for groceries, being asked to stay home could make or break their livelihood. Thus, further highlighting the inequalities of social class.
What the Coronavirus Means Economically for Local Businesses
The U.S. is on track for a recession. If you’ve been watching the stock market, you know this to be true. When it does hit, that means benefits will be cut, health insurance will be “renegotiated,” hours and pay will be reduced, and jobs will be lost.
For a small business owner, you’re just trying to stay afloat. But, social distance policies are kind of a bummer when you rely on foot traffic. Who’s to say how long this will last? One thing is for sure, as long as the coronavirus is spreading, business will drop.
That’s the bad news.
Here’s what I want to stress to you…
You can choose to hold on to the resources that you have, hunker down and wait this out.
Do what you can to get your business through it.
Take up another line of credit, if you can.
Or, you can lean in.
How To Help Your Business and Community Thrive Through the Coronavirus Pandemic
It’s time to put your entrepreneurial hat on and create! Not just for yourself, but for your community members. (Who knows? You could find yourself attracting all kinds of new business when this is over!)
Here’s what I propose:
- Make your business visible. Regular content helps establish you as an expert in your industry and get in front of your ideal audience. Let your customers know you are here for them in their hour of need. Do a bit of market research and learn what it is they need most, what they worry about most, what could bring them reprieve, etc. You have a voice: USE it!
- Create another stream of income for your business (quarantine-approved!) Create recorded programs, write e-books, start selling affiliate products, or teach your knowledge to someone who will pay for it. Let me know if you need help hashing out ideas. I’ve got a few!
- Partner with other local businesses. Synergy between you and another local business could be a beautiful thing! Bring your ideas together to create something unique that serves a mutual audience.
- Donate, support, volunteer at a local nonprofit. During this time of economic downturn, there are going to be people who need more help than others. Families in lower socioeconomic statuses are more susceptible to health, economic, and social inequality. Either volunteer your time or resources to help a local nonprofit who is serving the most vulnerable people in your community.
Your Business Can Survive. Your Community Can Thrive.
There are a lot of uncertainties as to what our economy is going to look like six months from now. As it stands, it looks like we are heading into a recession, our most vulnerable populations will face social discrimination, and small businesses may lose out on money (and employees). Do your best to prepare for the worst.
The coronavirus isn’t a disease to take lightly. Please be safe, follow the guidelines put in place by the CDC and WHO. (If your stores are still out of hand sanitizer, look up the recipe for a simple DIY mix!)
Lastly, keep your small business visible and support your local nonprofits and clinics however you can. Show up so your community can be well.
If you need help getting visible on social media, contact me today!