The impact of the economy on small businesses

In a 2018 article, Tim Davis (President of The UPS Store) said this of small businesses:

“Small business is the backbone of the economy. … It’s these businesses that are driving local economies, providing jobs for local residents and impacting key community organizations, through charity and service.”

Whilst small businesses are crucial to the infrastructure of a robust economy, they are equally affected by the health of that very same economy that they drive.

If we think about our own bodies – everything is connected. Having good posture is not just about sitting up straight!

“To maintain proper posture, you need to have adequate muscle flexibility and strength, normal joint motion in the spine and other body regions, as well as efficient postural muscles that are balanced on both sides of the spine.”

When we think about our spine, or back bone, we tend to initially focus on the bones. We may think of a skeleton that we once saw in a book or classroom. But a healthy functioning body is more than just a skeleton – it’s everything in between and around it! Even the foods we eat and drink can have a serious impact on our health. Any change in one area of our bodies can affect everything else.

In the economy, financial distress caused by the effects of black swan events will cause the majority of small, medium and micro-sized enterprises (SMMEs) to come under severe strain, and possibly even leave their future survival uncertain.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many countries are finding that as many as nine in ten small businesses are struggling or temporarily closed as a result of the impact of the virus (a black swan event) on the economy. A fraction are able to operate as normal and almost none would ever say that they are thriving. Decreased revenues and lack of financial resources mean that the backbone of the economy is heavily strained during these times and needs serious recovery and therapy time.

Cash flows dry up and small businesses are unable to operate for much more than three months without conditions changing. This affects their ability to pay rent (hitting landlords hard), salaries (hitting staff hard) and other service provider contracts (hitting other SMME’s hard).

Despite all of this, we find that the spirit and determination of small business owners to be far more resilient than the economy! It’s for this reason that the economy can indeed recover, and new opportunities can be found – but we all have to work together.

If you’re not a small business owner, try and find out from your immediate network how you can support local businesses. This may mean buying veggies from a local supplier, or using smaller retail outlets for your purchases rather than going through bigger branded chain stores. If you already use the services of SMMEs, try to pay their bills on time and encourage your friends to use them too.

This is how we boost the strength and resilience of our economy when major events occur. This is how we keep our friends and family employed and how we pull the very best of ourselves through the toughest of times.

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