Life After Corona
Most of us have never heard the word “pandemic” outside of a horror movie, and now, we’re sort of living in one.
Hyperbole aside, most of us will survive the Coronavirus, but what will life look like on the other side? At this point, we can only speculate.
While it’s true that certain “hotbeds” of COVID-19 may be spiking, it’s important for us all to look to the near future when life returns to some semblance of normal. There aren’t a lot of answers at the moment, but to get there, I think it’s important to first ask the right questions. For the small business owner, the first question is: Will my business survive?
Sadly, some might not, but the U.S. economy relies upon small businesses. It’s no secret that the majority of jobs in our country come from small businesses. In part, this is why this pandemic has been so difficult for the economy. Many small businesses have had to freeze in place. With no revenue being generated, that’s a very cold freeze.
But, when we’re no longer sheltered in place, how will our previous business environment look? It’s pure speculation, but we have some thoughts in no particular order:
There will be a greater appreciation of, well….people!
Life before the Coronavirus was very people-y. Crowds were everywhere you looked which is part of what makes our current situation so odd for many of us. Traffic is lighter in most places, malls are empty, restaurants are take-out and drive-through only. We’re all trying hard to keep our distance and many of us are missing very important people in our lives.
But more than that, there’s a certain class of people that most of us probably took a little for granted before. Teachers are the first group that comes to mind. For those of us with children, shouldering home-schooling duties was a bit more than we bargained for. Whether we’ve struggled or taken it all in stride, there has to be better recognition of the greater good teachers add to society as a whole. Maybe, we’ll even change the way we provide for them going forward.
The same can be said for healthcare workers who, by the very definition of the word, are heroes in everyone’s eyes. We can all recognize the importance of first responders and most of us have always seen them as heroic, but healthcare workers from the top physicians down to the people that clean patient rooms when they’re gone have all weathered every minute of the pandemic while most of the rest of us try to find something interesting on Netflix. After all this, healthcare workers should get their own holiday while the rest of us go to work. Of course, that wouldn’t fly because they have to work on holidays too.
Small Business will be stronger
You may see this as an overly optimistic thought or even a dream, but we really think that small businesses are going to emerge from this stronger. We have some good reasons for thinking this way.
First, everyone above the age of 18 knows they should exercise and eat right, but not everyone does it. Every business owner knows they need to plan for unforeseen emergencies but few actually do it. Our guess is that this will drastically change. Small business owners will develop savings and begin to move toward protecting their payroll. Not only that, but many will make permanent shifts in their workforce and offer work from home incentives (those that still want that!). We predict that the workforce will continue to adopt more virtual options once we’re through all this. We think that digital marketing strategies will continue to remain strong but other advertising mediums like billboard advertising will recover.
As we emerge from COVID-19, we believe the small businesses will gradually begin to rebuild, but owners will do so cautiously. Expenses and accounts receivables will be more closely monitored than ever before in order to rebuild wisely.
Marketing Budgets Will Rebound Gradually
It’s long been the “rule” that marketing budgets are directly related to revenue. Most people understand that a business should spend anywhere from 7%-15% of its annual revenue on marketing. Clearly, since revenue has taken a hit, it makes sense that marketing budgets have shifted as well. It’s a cyclical process in that revenue has to begin to increase for marketing budgets to grow, but marketing budgets need to still exist in order for revenue to increase.
The reality of the business world right now is that paid ads are cheaper than they’ve ever been. This makes perfect sense since the big ad networks need small businesses to buy ads which increases the cost per click. In turn, this means bigger businesses have to spend more on ads.
If businesses pull back money on ads, there is less competition which means the cost per click decreases. So, even though we have more people online than ever in our history, there are fewer advertisers which makes ads cheaper. This situation makes it the perfect time to invest in paid advertising for an excellent return on investment.
Unemployment Numbers Will Fall
Clearly, the Coronavirus has forced many businesses across the nation to furlough or lay off employees in order to survive. The unemployment numbers have soared incredibly quickly. As with any spike, once we are cleared to return to work again, these numbers will fall, but not as quickly as they have risen. Some experts predict that it may take as much as a year for them to fall back to previous numbers, but really, this is anyone’s guess.
The Stock Market Will Also Make A Gradual Recovery
While clearly, more people are concerned with basic survival needs (like toilet paper!) than 401ks, most people haven’t lost sight of the plunging stock market. It’s important to remember that the stock market was doing really, really well before, so a good bit of these losses could reasonably be considered a “forced correction” of the market.
We foresee that the general optimism that was present before the outbreak will cautiously return, but it may be a quarter or two as we climb out of the current slump. It could be a lot faster though. The thing is that smaller investors will have to generate more revenue in order to invest which won’t necessarily happen overnight.
Before COVID-19 was a household name, whether it was real or perceived, there was division in our country. These days, it’s hard to know if the division and negativity are as deep as the media wants us to believe, but our sincere hope is that once this has all passed, the experience leaves us in a place where we are all more tolerant of differences, more kind to each other and just better.