It is the 11th of March, I am sat in my office dithering. I have just finished the first of what should have been 5 appointments for today, 3 of the other appointments have already cancelled. I am hoping the other appointment attends. Before I have even started, I have lost over half my pay for the day. Days like this are becoming more common.
Before starting my appointments today, I spent time researching Corona Virus, trying to understand how it will impact me. I have even contacted my insurance broker to see if I am covered should government advise be that all activities are cancelled (current answer is they are awaiting clarification from my insurance company but I am not holding my breath for a positive answer).
We are a small company, there’s me as the director and then 7 part time staff. That means there are 7 people relying on me getting us through this. 7 people who need the income generated through working for me. And then there are others places we impact, our marketing, accountants, landlords and more. But more importantly than that is the children we work with. The children we support, give consistency to and help. That’s a lot of people reliant on little old me.
The trouble is, I do not know if we will survive. Already, the mass hysteria has seen a steep decline in bookings. We were lucky coming into March in that we had a healthy diary. But as the month is progressing people are cancelling and there is no one coming to take their place. Having had a waiting list for over 2 years and classes regularly selling out, this is a big scary change.
As fear spreads about Covid-19 people are staying away. We can reassure them, and we are trying to. But as the mass hysteria grows, reassurance for me doesn’t count very much.
Talking to other business friends I know it isn’t just tutors and child activity providers that are feeling this. Hotels, gyms, hairdressers, restaurants, basically anywhere that deals with the public is feeling the pinch, already.
And hanging over us all is the threat that the government may put the country into lockdown. Meaning no income, likely no insurance to help and just £94 a week to help pay my bills. That doesn’t even equate to a day of work, never mind 7. It won’t cover my basic running costs, which still need paid. Nor will it cover my bills. And my staff still need paid too.
I am in a fortunate position for a small business, I have some savings built up which will get us through the coming weeks. But if this turns into months, I do not know what I will do.
I understand why people are scared to go out, I have compromised immune system myself. But this truly could see the end of many small businesses. Maybe some large businesses too. Therefore, I am being more mindful to support other local businesses. Buying a lunch here or a hot chocolate there. Booking activities and things to do. All whilst washing my hands at every available opportunity. I have been complimented on my new perfume; it is in fact the anti-bacterial cleaner I use at work!
So, my ask of people today is simple. Please research and read, be critical, understand Covid-19 and the risk to yourself and your family. If you feel it is appropriate, get out and support small businesses. They may not be there in the weeks and months to come if you do not.