Small businesses will be key to restarting the economy

Hard though it seems to believe at the moment, life will return to normal after Covid- 19 but ‘normal’ will probably never be the same again.

Just as the global financing crisis of 2008 redefined ‘normal’ a decade ago, so Covid-19 will have done the same. The thing is, it will never leave us, at least in the short to medium term. Whatever we do in the post-lockdown world will be coloured by the thought that it’s still out there; still capable of making us ill – and worse.

But it is too easy to slide into a slough of despondency, pushed by the social media doom mongers and the mainstream media, all apparently keen to politicise the problem by shining a light on the worst possible downside, and, if one can’t be found, to fabricate it.

But let’s pause for a moment and consider part of the real human story behind the efforts to push back the pandemic. Whilst it would be foolish to think that no-one would die as a result of contracting a virus for which there was no cure, we must resist any temptation to start comparing the impact on a country by country basis. Raw numbers can be made to tell any kind of story, and there is no certainty that data is being collected on a like-for-like basis, or indeed being honestly recorded. In short, what do you want the numbers to say? Then they can be made to say that.

The little acts of kindness

A significant thread in the Covid-19 story has been the actions of selfless individuals to lift the difficulties created by the lockdown burden for the most vulnerable amongst us.  They’re done that in their hundreds of thousands as part of the NHS volunteer teams, as teams they’ve created themselves; or as individuals. Meals have been cooked and delivered to those unable to do that for themselves; medicines have been collected, and spirits generally lifted; and neighbours have started to talk to each other. Gin distillers turned to making hand sanitiser; manufacturers repurposed factories to make equipment for the NHS. And look at the money given to Captain – now Colonel – Tom; a huge sum raised because those who wanted to show support did it in perhaps the only way they could – by giving money.  It’s the human condition amongst the silent majority; a desire to help where possible.

Where did the money go?

The economy has certainly taken a battering, and there’s been a huge contraction as company cashflow has dried up. That obviously translates into lost jobs and failed businesses – but should we see them as lost for ever? Much of the money that would have been spent is still there; people haven’t been able to get out and spend it in the way they would have done, but demand will return. Hospitality has certainty taken a hit, but the public won’t – or at least shouldn’t – forget the businesses which have offered albeit limited services, and those that can afford to should get out there and spend it with them.

So, what’s the bottom line?

Money and goodwill are the two engines which will re-start economies around the world. The sooner we can start to being those to bear, the sooner we shall be able to embark on the journey to the new normality – and determined small businesses can convert both to the economic growth that is so badly needed.

Picture: Rido| Dreamstime