What business owners need to know about the Coronoavirus, and how to remain grounded for your employees, your customers and your community.
Right now, it’s practically impossible to go online or talk to someone without the word “coronavirus” being mentioned. Understandably, our nation is going through a huge transition as we work to figure out how to manage, mitigate and respond to the coronavirus in the US. While I am not a medical professional, I have been more concerned about our response as people and businesses within the communities we serve. It’s my hope that this article can help empower you as a business owner by providing basic information around the coronavirus in the US and how your business can, and should, respond.
Coronavirus in the US
The coronavirus or COVID-19 is a highly contagious strain of a coronavirus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the symptoms include fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. It’s spread from person to person through personal contact such as touching or shaking hands, through the air by coughing and sneezing, or by touching a surface that has the virus on it and then touching your face before washing your hands.
Just when things were looking up for my ASU Sun Devils, large events like the NBA March Madness games, music festival like Coachella and any large gatherings are being canceled because of how easily it can spread. While universities are moving classes online and workplaces are instituting remote work policies to help limit exposure, I can’t help but think that families are gathering more around the dinner table…well, wishful thinking at least.
How Bad is the Coronavirus
All the information surrounding COVID-19 can be very concerning and might have you wondering, “how bad is the coronavirus?” Although the virus might not present symptoms in younger, healthier individuals the CDC warns there are serious risks for older adults and those who have chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, or lung disease.
To my dismay and confusion, seeing the news about the coronavirus in USA has caused a lot of people to panic and stock up on supplies like toilet paper, hand soap, and anti-bacterial wipes. Fortunately, it appears that coffee remains in stock, which is great news for our team. Above all else though, we are being reminded to practice personal hygiene…I thought that was a given in daily life, but alas, it’s not. I am reminded that in this time we must stay grounded, keep a clear head, not panic and remember to serve others above ourselves.
Coronavirus vs. Flu
With so many similarities in symptoms, many people are wondering what the difference is in coronavirus vs flu. Although they are from the same family of viruses, there are distinctions between the two.
One of the biggest differences is that there is currently no vaccination to help prevent COVID-19. However, current statistics show that while there have been over 100,000 cases of the coronavirus and 3,000 deaths worldwide, the flu or influenza, has a much larger impact. According to the CDC, this season the flu has caused an estimated 34 million illnesses and 20,000 deaths.
Much of the fear surrounding the coronavirus is in the fact that doctors and scientists still don’t know much about it, but what everyone can agree on is the state of panic sweeping our nation is not productive. Additionally, health professionals continue to urge people who feel sick to stay home and for everyone to regularly wash their hands for at least 20 seconds…again, something I thought would be a given in living a healthy life.
How did the Coronavirus Start?
So how did the coronavirus start? What is the coronavirus cause? According to the CDC, this strain of coronavirus is suspected to have started in animals and emerged to infect people. This happened with two other very serious viruses, MERS and SARS. All three of these viruses have their origins in bats. A large seafood and live animal market in Wuhan, China appears to be the source of the original outbreak. Then the disease spread through person to person contact.
The CDC has shared a coronavirus map that highlights where cases of COVID-19 are present in the United States. In total, the United States has seen over 1,800 cases of coronavirus and counting. However, by encouraging the public to limit large events and unnecessary travel, the government is hoping to mitigate the spread of the virus. The concerning part, in my opinion, is the state of panic that ensued and the mass trickle down effect it’s had from multi billion dollar businesses, all the way down to local shops seemingly overnight.
The Business Impact of COVID-19
If you are a business owner and wondering how this is going to effect your family, friends and business, you’re not alone…in fact, many business owners are unsure of how to navigate the coronavirus in the US and what the impact will be for their businesses. With all the news coverage surrounding the virus, it’s natural that customers and employees will have questions about how your business will respond. To help, I have put together some items to consider if you are a leader in your organization and/or owner:
- How have you handled this with your internal team? For most businesses small to medium sized, there doesn’t need to be a long drawn out press conference followed by a 5 paragraph formal press release out to the masses. Something as simple as simple as an internal memo to your team goes a long way. The goal is to empower your employees with how your company is handling this to maintain a unified front.
- How are you communicating to your customers? Communicating proactively to your customers will allow you and your business to show them your company’s view of this, and what is being done in response to it. Your customers trust you and your company for a reason, so you must lead and serve them.
- How are you looking out for your neighbor? As a business owner or leader of an organization, we involve our businesses in supporting non profits and community endeavors throughout the year. Reach out to them and see how your business can be a proactive leader in the community.
If business is slowing down, you should also consider re-framing your approach to help best serve the needs and your employees and potentially add on value offering to your business. Here are some quick tips and examples:
- If you’re a service-based business, consider helping people virtually or at their homes.
- If you sell physical goods, try exploring eCommerce or selling through social media channels like Instagram. Restaurant owners, for example, could do a gift card promotion to generate more revenue quickly while fewer people are coming into their business to eat.
- For your team internally, consider adopting technology to help improve your business processes and communication…and hey, if you hold too many in person meetings anyways, take this time to help transform that process to be more efficient. At Striventa we use systems like Trello, Slack, Zoom, and HubSpot to keep our strategy, all tasks and both client and team communication organized and in alignment to accomplish our goals for our customers.
On the whole, when we look back on this in years to come, are we going to say that we trusted in our faith, medical system, and came together as a community? Or are we going to let fear dictate this situation and cling to toilet paper for dear life? Now is the time to rally together as communities, look out for one another and live life.
If you are a business owner or leader in your organization and have any questions or just an ear to talk to, please reach out to me directly at [email protected].
Disclaimer: Striventa is not a healthcare provider and is not giving medical advice through this article.