As employers across the nation grapple with new remote working arrangements and accommodating employees impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19), new survey findings reveal exactly how this pandemic is affecting operations for small businesses.
According to FreshBooks survey findings from over 400 small business owners, freelancers, and self-employed professionals across the United States, roughly two-thirds (65%) of respondents say they are either extremely concerned or very concerned about how COVID-19 will affect their businesses.
Is Social Distancing the New Norm?
Social distancing is the biggest cause for concern, cited by 52% of respondents, as most small businesses—like real estate, automotive work, and retail stores—rely on face-to-face human interaction to get the job done. Granted, not every small employer shares these concerns; others are concerned with the impact travel on their business.
Additionally, 19% of respondents say they do not feel ready to handle business challenges emerging from COVID-19, like administering leave, accommodating the influx of telecommuting requests, managing remote workers, and more. And when it comes to the business aspect of their concerns, a majority (54%) are either extremely concerned or very concerned that demand for their services will slow down as a result of the pandemic.
Yet, many small business owners are prepared for a financial hit:
- 36% are coping with a loss of income.
- 36% are prepared for lower cash flow.
- 21% have enough staff in place to keep the business running.
Should revenue or sales fall because of the pandemic, businesses are prepared to do the following:
- 31% will cancel nonessential business services.
- 21% will delay or cancel their marketing/sales spend.
- 14% will adapt their offerings to be delivered remotely.
- 12% will lay off workers.
- 12% will secure additional sources of credit.
- 11% will offer discounts or deals to customers.
Out of the options listed above, however, 37% of respondents say they will do none of these things if revenue or sales decline, which makes us wonder: Will these businesses be forced to close down shop?
Who’s Going to Help?
Additionally, 43% of small business owners are pessimistic about receiving help from banks, suppliers, local governments, and clients. While 21% say state and/or local governments will step in to help, 20% say their largest clients will offer to help, 11% say banks will help, and 10% say their suppliers would also help, if need be.
What’s surprising, while 43% are pessimistic about receiving help from anyone, 19% are positive that the federal government will intervene. Given that Congress is currently drafting a bill that will help everyone impacted by COVID-19, there is a small hope that small businesses will get the help they so desperately need.