Every day for two years, small business owners like me have been praying for a miracle: healthy workers and families; schools, daycares and other critical support infrastructure operating at full capacity and thriving; a return to the status quo in our economy as a whole.
Even as the grip of the pandemic lasted, from weeks and months to years, most of us managed to remain cautiously confident about the road ahead – optimism being a defining characteristic of small business entrepreneurs. that drive our country’s economy.
COVID-19 has fundamentally changed the way America and the world live and work; businesses of all sizes have had to adapt to survive. This is especially true for small businesses. In the case of Milk Jar Cookies, our once thriving downtown neighborhood no longer has the same level of foot traffic as remote working has become the new norm. Not only have we started a shipping business to increase our revenue, but we also need to look for a new location that will once again bring customers through our doors.
As we continue to battle COVID-19 and its cunning, fast-spreading variant, Omicron, the devastating effects on California’s small business community are mounting, making it increasingly difficult for many of us to consider a sustainable survival strategy. Throughout the holidays, one of our busiest times of the year, Milk Jar Cookies had 50% of our staff sick or awaiting COVID test results resulting in thousands of dollars in compensation claims. sickness and thousands of lost incomes.
Labor shortages, inflation and supply chain disruptions are also fueling our pandemic anxiety. Our collective stress is clearly reflected in the results of a new Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Voices survey of small business owners across the United States.
This nationwide survey of nearly 1,500 small business owners from 47 states found that more than 79% of us are concerned about the continued impact of COVID-19 and the Omicron variant on our businesses, and 71% have seen our revenue decline due to the rapid spread. of Omicron. In California alone, 44% said their business had been forced to temporarily shut down or scale back operations due to the recent spike in COVID-19 cases.
Additionally, 90% of California small business owners report that broader economic trends such as inflation, supply chain issues, and labor issues are negatively impacting businesses. And almost all (98%) of California small business owners who are hiring said difficulty finding workers is impacting their bottom line.
This deepening crisis is hiding in plain sight. You see it when you walk past your favorite local restaurant with a help-seeking sign in the window, and maybe one announcing reduced hours or “delivery only.” You feel it when you walk into a favorite specialty store and can’t find anyone to check you out, or see the owner doing the job of three people. You experience this when the delivery time of a product you ordered is months instead of days or even weeks. But make no mistake, this crisis is real for California small businesses; 77% say supply chain issues have negatively impacted their bottom line, and 81% said their company’s financial health has been impacted by inflation over the past six months.
Maybe you’re like me and have come to terms with the reality that there won’t be “business as usual” anytime soon. Maybe your customers demand more of your products and services, but you’re limited by supply chain challenges. Or maybe you’re struggling to keep your doors open due to calls from employees because of COVID protocols. We are living in an ongoing crisis with no real end in sight.