Fighting Coronavirus – Are You Part Of the Solution Or Part Of the Problem?
Sequestered from our friends, our work colleagues, and in many cases, our own family members, we feel separated, unable to connect, and worse, we feel powerless to change it. We want it to end. But not everyone is doing their part, and it’s those relatively few individuals who are making this situation last far longer than it needs to.
Episode 6 – Fighting Coronavirus – Are You Part Of the Solution Or Part Of the Problem?
“How’s everyone doing with the requirement to self-quarantine?
If you’re like most people, it’s getting old.
We’re sequestered from our friends, our work colleagues, and in many cases, our own family members, and we feel separated, unable to connect, and worse, we feel powerless to change it.
We want it to end. We’re ready for it to be over. We’re ready to put the normal back into our lives. But not everyone is doing their part, and it’s those relatively few individuals who are making this situation last far longer than it needs to.
Hey, welcome back. This is Roger Reid with another episode of Success Point 360.
I’ve received a lot of emails with questions about the virus and how the resulting quarantine is affecting business and people’s livelihood. People who are employed but can’t go to work are asking if this is a good time to start a home-based business. Independent contractors are wondering if they should continue to spend money on advertising or wait until the mandates concerning physical distancing are lifted.
Because of those concerns, I decided to do a special episode about our current situation with the Coronavirus. And while most of the questions I’ve received have been about how the virus is affecting business and income, and how to survive the financial strain that’s resulted from the quarantine, that’s not the issue. Certainly, it’s a concern, but that’s not the problem we need to address. And I’m not dismissing your questions, and I promise I’ll get to them at the end of the episode, but right now, I want to focus on what I feel is more important than making adjustments to our businesses, our spending patterns, and our marketing efforts.
We’ve all been told, we’ve all heard it, from health officials and doctors, that if we would sequester ourselves for two weeks, and during that time, avoid all contact with others, we’d be done. The virus would create its own endpoint. Because it couldn’t spread.
Personally, I’ve been in self-quarantine for nearly five weeks now. And because the numbers are still rising in many locations, the virus is still spreading, that tells us something. That not everyone is listening. Not everyone is doing their part. In fact, they’re contributing to the problem. They’re acting as the catalyst that’s keeping the virus in play, ensuring the spread continues.
So our problem is not how do we do business in this time of quarantine and isolation, but how do we get these relatively few social outlaws to understand the gravity and seriousness of what they are doing? How do we impress upon them that by ignoring the requirements to avoid contact with others, by thinking the restrictions don’t apply to them, they’ve become as much of an enemy as the virus itself, because quite literally, they are the virus.
It’s a big question, and until we arrive at some practical answers, we’re going to be forced to deal with the fallout from the virus for a long time.
I’ll come back to this in a minute.
Let’s take a moment to talk about the challenges of self-quarantine. One of the reasons that some of us are having so much difficulty with staying home and intentionally isolating ourselves from others is the internal battle we have to fight on a daily basis.
Forcing ourselves to do what we objectively know is best—staying at home, taking protective precautions when we must go out—is completely contrary to our subconscious programming.
Typically, when we’re attacked by something, we’re pre-wired to take physical action. This defense mechanism—a derivation of the flight or fight response—reflects our belief that it’s seldom in our best interest to sit by and watch as a threat continues to unfold all around us.
This is one of the reasons that people have made a run on toilet paper. It gives them something to do—a way to respond to the attack. They believe that buying toilet paper will somehow make a difference—But at best, it’s a symbolic gesture, like drawing a virtual line in the sand.
You might as well stand on the street corner and yell, “I’m ready for you, Corona Bastard. I’ve got six dozen rolls of triple-ply and I’m not afraid to use it!”
It’s the same with soap and disinfectants, food, and most paper products, with people buying, not in quantities of what’s needed for a few weeks, but in many cases, they’re buying a year’s worth.
By stockpiling all these disposable products, many believe they’re taking a defensive posture against the enemy.
So a full pantry becomes a ready war-chest. A fully-stocked freezer is ammunition in reserve.
And now we wait it out.
But not everyone understands the message. And they’re frustrated—some are emotionally distraught—because they don’t know how to placate their subconscious need to strike back.
They want to retaliate, so they push back against the restrictions, erroneously believing these preventative measures are a tangible representation of the enemy.
These are the people who are refusing to stay home, refusing to self-quarantine. They consider mandated isolation an assault on their normal routine—as if it’s a result of enemy infiltration. Through this ill-contrived notion that uncivil disobedience is the answer, they’re targeting the very things that are intended to save them.
In effect, they’re refusing to see the bigger picture, and their irresponsible actions make them directly responsible for expanding the spread of the disease and increasing the human and economic toll that we will all pay before this is over.
My purpose in this rant is not to suggest or promote the idea that we need to confront those whose lack of intelligence is offset only by their arrogance. I doubt that it would do any good. Other countries have resorted to harsh financial penalties and fines, as well as jail terms for violators. And that may become necessary here. We’ll see what the future holds.
In the meantime, I want to offer a few suggestions, to make you more aware of what you can do to promote a survival mindset and feel more confident in your ability to self-sustain while we deal with this situation.
For a lot of you, I realize this may be the first time you’ve had to face a threatening situation on this scale, the first time you’ve had to deal with a real crisis without being able to depend upon the professional and political establishment as a first line of defense.
So let’s make it clear that we need to think in terms of taking responsibility for ourselves and our families, because based on the response from political and administrative leaders, which has been slow, inconsistent, and far less effective than it could have been – we’re on our own.
We could talk for hours about how the confusion and poor response surrounding the virus is the result of political affiliation, cronyism, nepotism, fear, and profiteering, …..all of those things. And certainly, to some extent, those influences have prevented a unified and effective response from our leaders, so many of whom seem far more concerned with policy rather than people.
But regardless of what’s causing it, we have to deal with the facts. So let’s talk about a few things we can all do to be better prepared and increase our level of emotional stability.
1.Be ready to take care of yourself, and that’s especially true if your symptoms are mild. Make sure you have a digital thermometer, OTC medications to reduce fever, a cough suppressant and other remedies you can use to relieve symptoms. And have enough soap and sanitizer for all family members for a month.
- Stop hoarding food. Yes, we’re currently dealing with temporary shortages of certain items, such as pork and some beef products. Personally, I’ve noticed that eggs are selling out within hours of being delivered to the stores. I’ve talked to Walmart managers and several large grocery chain managers, and I’ve asked them what we can expect as far future shortages and the need to ration or limit particular foods groups. They told me it’s a day to day situation. The trucks come in and 20% of the items on order are not on the truck. So for a day or two, consumers will see bare shelves where they used to find their favorite brand of pizza, or organic chicken breasts, or frozen dinners. But there’s an easy solution . . . just substitute another form of protein or carbohydrate. So if the store is out of hamburger meat, see if they have ground turkey. If you normally eat a three-egg omelet in the morning, try a piece of fish. You don’t have to sit down to a twenty-ounce steak every night to get your protein requirement. Cheese, nuts, fish, vegetables like broccoli, and pinto and kidney beans are excellent sources of protein. So get a little inventive, don’t be afraid to make a few changes to your regular menu, and you’ll be fine.
There’s no reason to believe the food distribution chain is in danger in the long term. There’s plenty of food for everyone. Panic buying is a result of fear. At most, buy what you need for a month. Over-buying fresh produce, vegetables, and other short-term perishables is a waste of food—and that’s food that others could use.
- If you’ve never put together a family “disaster” plan, it’s time to make one. Include emergency contact numbers, financial information, the location of storage facilities, safety deposit boxes, and the addresses and phone numbers of family members and relatives. Include a description of any health problems, medications, and special considerations for the elderly or infirmed members of the family. And don’t forget your pets, and who can be contacted or counted on to take care of them in an emergency. The CDC website has a comprehensive checklist you can use to educate your family on general preparation, recognizing virus symptoms, safe distancing protocols, and common sense measures if you need to respond to an infected family member. You can go right to CDC.com and click on the menu options listed for the coronavirus, or you can find a direct link by visiting my website at successpoint360. Com and click on the show notes for this episode.
- Make sure you’re practicing self-quarantine. As I’ve mentioned, there are far too many media reports of block parties, weddings, church services, bars, and other non-essential businesses refusing to close.
Self-entitlement has no place in this situation, especially if it means you end up killing someone. And that’s exactly what can happen when groups of people get together in defiance of national, state, and county quarantine orders.
Assembling in groups—for any reason—will continue to spread the disease. It’s already obvious, when looking back at large gatherings from a few weeks ago, just how instrumental these too-close encounters are in spreading the disease. These instances of pubic and even clandestine gatherings create hot spots in which the virus receives new lines of distribution. So stay home and save someone’s life.
- Think about this stay-at-home time as an opportunity to prepare for the future. This is an excellent time to start that online course you’ve been thinking about. You could also learn more about a new business activity, or tackle a new subject you’ve always had a personal interest in. A few months from now we’ll look back on this period of quarantine as time used to improve our minds and prepare for the future—or a complete waste of time.
The difference—the choice—is up to you.
Hey, that’s my rant, and I want to thank you for listening.
Before I wrap this up, I do want to address the questions I mentioned at the start of the episode, because I’m sure there are many people who are dealing with similar situations.
In the first question, the listener wanted to know if this is a good time to start a home-based business. I wish I could be more concise, but the answer is, it depends. What are you selling? Is the product or service something that’s on the minds of the consumer in our current situation? And let me just interject something: The relevancy of what I’m saying is really dependent on when you’re listening to this. I’m recording this on April 15, 2020, and we’re in the very height of the coronavirus. For the most part, the country is shut down. Very little business is being done outside of satisfying the immediate needs of the consumer.
And that’s why the nature of your product or service is so important. If you’re planning to sell non-essential consumer goods, for example, anything having to do with clothing, apparel, fashion accessories, this is not the time.
Certainly, you can prepare for the launch of your business when we return to a new normal, but right now, you want to conserve your capital, refine your launch plan, and consider what kind of promotions you can use when it’s time to start your business. As a counterpoint, there are some business activities that are booming, and those are generally related to the supposed and imagined needs of those who believe or at least are concerned that the coronavirus is the beginning of the end. These are the so-called preppers, and those who subscribe to conspiracy theories, and anyone who believes that the fabric of society is on the verge of failing, and we’re just months away from civil war in the streets.
The sale of guns, ammunition, freeze-dried food, some camping equipment, emergency lighting, simple, do it yourself alarm and security systems are all examples of this market. So If your product or service fits that survival nitch, and is exclusively on-line, then yes, this could be the right time to start your business.
The second question had to do with Independent contractors and small business entrepreneurs who are wondering if they should continue to spend money on advertising or wait until we’re back to business as usual. Well, first of all, the definition of business as usual, is changing. Because, frankly, this pandemic is going to change a lot of the way business is going to be done in the future. And we can’t make the assumption that because it worked in the past, it will work in the future. In what we’re calling the new normal, we’ll see the buying patterns of consumers change. For example, a lot of people who never shopped online before the virus, are finding the convenience and the ability to compare features and price is a more productive experience than spending time in a store, where there is only a fraction of the inventory to choose from. The economic effect of this virus is going to affect the bedrock of a lot of businesses, and they’ll have to change to meet the consumers’ expectations or go out of business.
Now, to answer the question, again, it depends on what kind of business you’re in and how you usually market to your customers. I got a call last week from a charter travel business. The bulk of their income is generated by putting together charter groups using cruise ships as their main mode of travel. And obviously, their business is dead. The only reason their phones are ringing is because of requests for refunds. So based on their product and the market, it might seem like the answer would be no, don’t waste the money on advertising.
But there are some things you don’t know about this company. It’s been in business for over twenty years. It has an eighty percent repeat customer rate, and nearly fifty percent of their customers take at least one trip with this company annually. So they have a loyal following.
The advertising they were concerned about was the full page, rear inside cover of a national travel publication. They buy it on an annual basis, twelve insertions at a time. They’ve had that same position in the magazine for nearly ten years. In other words, they’re an anchor advertiser. People expect to see that add in every issue.
As I continued my conversation with the owner, I learned an additional piece of financial information that became the overriding influence in making a recommendation. They were holding just over a million dollars in customer deposits for future travel, all of which were scheduled after January of next year.
Here’s what I asked the owner: What’s going to happen when the company’s customers flip to the rear of the magazine and the ad isn’t there? What are they going to think? Will they wonder if the company out of business? Are they going to worry that the company is so economically fragile, that deposits made for trips that are a year in the future are at risk?
If that company is back in business in five, or six, or eight months, and they don’t have access to that prominent position in the magazine because it’s been sold to someone else, what’s the alternative to reach their customer base?
How a small business spends its money in an economic crisis can have a huge effect on their survival, both in the short and long term. Yes, you want to get skinny, be frugal with your reserves. But those are generalities, and it’s difficult to make decisions that could affect the longevity and success of the company without looking at the details.
Bottom line, I recommended the travel company buy the ad. Their cash position was relatively strong, it wasn’t going to put an immediate strain on their resources. This ad had been the cornerstone of their marketing. And the forty thousand dollars they would spend to maintain that ad could turn out to be relatively cheap insurance, giving their existing customers the comfort level they need, to know their deposits are safe.
So if you find yourself in the same boat, no pun intended, determine what effect it will have if you continue advertising versus pulling the ad. And certainly, consider alternatives –preferably less expensive alternatives – to keep communicating with your current customer base. Because that’s going to be the source of income when we return to a more usual state of buying and selling products and services. Protect your source of income by making sure you let your customers know you’re there for them, and you’ll be there when they’re ready to spend money again.
I want to thank you for listening. I know this is not an easy time, but it will pass, and we need to be looking to the future, to being ready to get back to the business of living.
Stay safe everyone, and follow the mandates for physical distancing.
If you’d like a transcript of this episode, you can find one at www.SuccessPoint360.com Just click on the show notes under the appropriate episode. And yes, I want to hear from you. Your comments and questions are important to me, and I’ll do my best to answer them, either during a future episode or by return email. The best way to reach me is to use the contact link located in the main header of my website at www.SuccessPoint360.com
Again, thanks for listening, and I’ll see you next time.
© 2020, Roger A. Reid