The COVID-19 outbreak is impacting businesses globally in many ways including reduced trade, temporary business closures, staffing issues, and supply chain interruptions.
Across the globe, “non-essentials” are being shut-down in the midst of the outbreak.
Businesses across most industries are feeling the pinch as consumers and clients shift priorities and bunker down.
It will be months before we can even begin to predict the ultimate economic impact from COVID-19, but small businesses and the people they employ are likely to be the worst affected. The hospitality and tourism industries are already on their knees and all around us, we see other non-essentials hurting more by the day.
What’s happening for FVC
For us, as a small environmental consulting business, we are noticing changes too, with client meetings and industry conferences cancelled and doubt around whether or not we’ll be jumping on that plane to the Pilbara next month.
Within our own office environment, we have enacted a list of hygiene procedures including frequent hand washing, sanitising surfaces, keeping a physical distance and working from home if there are any cold symptoms in that staff member’s home.
Whilst the hope is that we will be largely unaffected in businesses like environmental consulting, the level of global uncertainty about the full impact of COVID-19 on our economy and daily lives is unprecedented.
Are we all to blame?
While the Commonwealth and State governments’ messages to us are clear; wash your hands, socially distance and get on with your usual routines as much as possible within the risk management guidelines, I for one am not falling over myself to go for a facial or hit the shops for a new winter wardrobe, as much as both are definitely needed. And an intimate dinner with girlfriends, also overdue, can we even feel relaxed enough to indulge in that?
So, by avoiding these opportunities to put money into the local economy, we are denying the our beauticians, clothing stores and restaurants income they’d usually receive from us.
If you think you’re not contributing to the problem, ask yourself, have you skipped that usual morning coffee this week, cancelled or paused your gym membership or cancelled dinner with friends?
But what are we to do? As this new global pandemic continues to unfold, even authoritative members of our community don’t have the answers. We’re all just figuring it out as we go.
How can we all help?
While nobody has all the answers, and possibly never will, there are some things we know we can do to help.
Our mantra needs to be, get on with your usual routines as much as possible. That means, as long as you represent no risk to the community and as long as you are satisfied with the measures put in place by the business you frequent, keep supporting them.
This does put a lot of onus on businesses to openly communicate with customers and clients about hygiene measures they’re putting in place. But we’ve all had numerous communications from our local bakery, GP and real estate agents about what they’re doing to manage the risk of virus spread. And if you haven’t heard from your local favourites, contact them to find out what they’re doing. Satisfy yourself. Then get out there.
Grab that coffee on the way to work, like you always would.
Keep your gym membership and get along to a class or a session.
Contact your travel agent and book a little getaway down south.
Go and get those brows done!
What the future holds
How the COVID-19 situation and its impact on our economy will play out is a mystery to most. One thing we do know is that other support is on its way.
The Commonwealth and State governments are offering stimulus packages for members of the community, low interest loans to help retain employees, options to defer paying payroll tax, cash flow assistance, support for business investment. mentoring sessions, financial workshops.
On Wednesday, the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell wrote to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, requesting further support for Australia’s small business sector.
On Tuesday, Facebook announced a $100 million program to help small businesses.
It’s time for us to all step up to the plate and do our bit too.