This is a tough time to be a small business owner. Over the past few months, small businesses have suffered because of COVID-19. Now, civil unrest is adding little fuel to the fire.
If you have found your business already in the thick of things, you know exactly what the impact of social unrest can be for small business owners and employees.
But maybe civil unrest hasn’t yet directly impacted your business, and you are wondering what you can expect.
Let’s talk about a few different ways in which civil unrest could potentially affect your business.
1. Looting, vandalism and burning.
The most destructive impact which social unrest can have on your business takes the form of literal destruction.
Since the protests began, some small businesses have been looted, vandalized, or even burned to the ground.
Describing the plight of one small business owner in St. Paul, USA Today writes, “[Jim Segal] said coronavirus concerns forced him to close his business for the better part of two months. They'd been reopened a little more than a week when the building was ransacked … ‘I don't recall ever being in a situation where I was that panicked. I was petrified, actually,’ he said. Ax-Man won't reopen for at least a week or two, and Segal fears it may close permanently because of the lack of sales during the spring. That would mean a loss of livelihood for him and about 10 employees.”
It is important for small business owners to be aware that the looters often have nothing to do with the protests. They are simply taking advantage of the situation to create chaos. Indeed, many of them directly oppose what the protestors stand for (white supremacists have been linked to some incidents, see this article).
As business owner Roy Rodman writes, “The people who broke in and looted my store had a completely different agenda than those who were protesting about violence.”
Another way in which social unrest is impacting small businesses right now is through the curfews which some cities have instated in an attempt to restore order.
With a curfew in effect, you may see a significant reduction in business during the evening and late at night.
Indeed, this may be the case even if your business is allowed to remain open during curfew hours (i.e. because you have a restaurant).
A lot of people simply are not going to want to be out and about when it is not safe to do so.
Plus, as a business owner, you may not want to be open during a curfew even if you are allowed to do so.
3. Your own political stance.
There is another way in which social unrest can also impact you as the owner of a small business as well, and it is a bit more indirect.
Right now, a lot of people are taking stock of the situation in this country, and are thinking hard about who they do and do not want to support.
As a business owner, you should be doing the same.
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USA Today columnist Rhonda Abrams says, “Right now, you’re probably just trying to ensure that your small business survives the impact of COVID-19. But America is at a turning point, and your voice matters. Small-business owners are some of the most respected members of their communities. What you say and what you do is important.”
If you support racism and other forms of bigotry, you are going to be held accountable for that stance now and in the future.
But if you support equality and stand with the protestors, that is going to reflect positively on your business. Ultimately, that may help you to keep customers coming through your door. You also will have the pride of knowing you are a part of the solution.
Tips for Protecting Your Business During Social Unrest
There is no ironclad way to protect your business right now, but here are a few recommendations:
- Familiarize yourself with potential weak points of your facility. If there are any temporary security measures you can take to reduce your vulnerabilities, do so. Make sure you have cameras installed.
- Consider temporarily relocating cash and high-value merchandise from your store. That way, it will not be there to tempt looters.
- If someone breaks into your store, do not attempt to fend them off unless you are appropriately trained to do so. You can consider hiring temporary security guards if you are concerned that this might happen. If you do not have security guards, and someone breaks in, you should call the authorities to help.
- Get to know your insurance policy in intimate detail. If necessary, consider upgrading your policy to provide you with more comprehensive coverage. Even then, be aware that there can be sizable gaps.
- In some situations, financial assistance might be available either through a local government agency or through a non-profit organization in your area.
- Do not forget about federal assistance which might be available to you at this time because of COVID-19. If you qualify for that assistance, it might not only help you deal with losses you have sustained because of coronavirus, but may also help you stay afloat amid social unrest.
Get Advice from a Financial Advisor in Your Area
At a time like this, it makes sense to seek out personalized advice from a professional who is an expert in your local situation as well as local resources which may be able to assist you.
We can connect you to a human advisor in your area who can understand your situation and empathize with the struggles your business may be going through. That professional can help you with financial measures to provide your business with increased stability now and in the future.
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