This post is written by Bill Reagan, Executive Director of the SBDC and first appeared in the Alexandria Times on April 2, 2020.
As a breather from our anxiety with all the unknowns and frustrations over changes to our personal and work patterns, I thought it might add perspective if we paused a moment to recognize just how effectively we’ve responded.
Before we do this, however, we cannot overlook the damage to our small businesses and their employees, and there’s information at the end to direct them to the SBDC site for latest information on COVID-19 assistance programs.
Perhaps you’ve had occasion to remember back to something that occurred two or three weeks ago and have been startled to realize it seemed more like months. Our lives and patterns have spiraled dramatically over such a short span.
Think of the last time that someone tried to shake your hand and you had to awkwardly turn it into an elbow touch. Now we stand six feet apart in checkout lines. We’ve completely changed behavior in a few weeks’ time. We might have considered ourselves set in our ways, but have demonstrated a capacity for reversing lifelong patterns under dire circumstances
As we migrate through this strange period of social distancing and all the other norms that have shifted, it will be fascinating to see how things have changed once we get back to normalcy. How soon will we start handshaking again? How soon will we fly or attend large gatherings? We’ve seen our grandparents who were depression era children maintain their frugality their entire lives.
Under duress, we’ve had a couple of huge accomplishments. For one, we’ve established much healthier public health patterns and future common cold and flu seasons are likely to be milder and better managed.
Another big thing is how we’ve been forced to learn and comfortably adapt the technology that was in our devices all along. We have become remote work mavens with new comfort zones and techniques we can use from now on.
Those changing patters that we’ve adopted are likely to have ripple effects into the economy and provoke owners to rethink their business models. How might retailers and hospitality businesses reconfigure their offerings to include zoom sessions or curbside pickup? What new services might crop up to remedy the damage we’ve done with hand sanitizer on our steering wheels, wallets, phones and who knows what else?
As time and fewer pressing issues allow us to refocus more on the future, our American ingenuity will prompt us to develop new products, services, leisure options and ways of doing things that we never considered before. And not just America – the whole world is going through this together and that holds the potential for international shifts that we will respond to here.
We’ll come out of this living nightmare and weep for the lives lost and the grief and disruption caused, but we are entitled to a sense of accomplishment for the resilience we’ve shown in the face of horrible circumstances and the improvements we’ll make from what we’ve learned.
Business owners can find the latest COVID-19 assistance updates at www.alexandriasbdc.org