The NFIB Research Center’s new survey on the current impact of the coronavirus outbreak on small business found that while most small businesses are not currently impacted, owners are concerned about future disruptions if the outbreak continues to escalate.
The vast majority of small businesses (74%) are not currently impacted by the coronavirus outbreak. However, the coronavirus outbreak is negatively impacting about 23% of small business owners. Three percent are positively impacted.
“Right now, most of our small business owners are not seeing a huge impact, but the situation surrounding the coronavirus is changing by the hour,” said Matt Everson, NFIB State Director in Indiana. “Our small business owners here in Iowa are already adapting to the changing conditions and trying to anticipate any potential disruptions.”
In Cedar Rapids, NFIB member Cindy Golding is already dealing with a disruption to her management and training business. DiffStrat is a world leader in philanthropic research and development training. Cindy and her husband frequently travel to Australia, and she’s seen a dramatic impact to her small business in just the past few days.
“As of today, we have canceled our trip to Australia, which means no income from the planned workshops and clinics, lost revenue from non-refunded travel expenses and ongoing costs for our internal staff. In addition to that loss, our U.S. clients have rescheduled their sessions to later in the year. This is significantly different from the situation just 3 days ago. Our on-line offerings are filling some of the training gaps but not the revenue stream,” said Golding.
According to NFIB’s latest survey, of those small business owners not currently impacted, 43% anticipate their business being impacted if the coronavirus outbreak spreads to, or spreads more broadly in, their immediate area over the next three months. Twenty percent do not expect to be impacted if the outbreak spreads, and another 37% are not sure.
Of those businesses negatively impacted, 39% are experiencing supply chain disruptions, 42% slower sales, and 4% sick employees. The 4% of owners citing sick employees likely responded this way out of heightened concern and precautions with sick employees showing some signs of cold or flu-like symptoms, not necessarily because they have employees who have tested positive for the virus.
While most small business owners are not currently impacted, many are taking measurable steps to prepare their business from the coronavirus outbreak. Thirty percent of owners have stocked up on disinfectant and hand sanitizer for their business and 12% have talked with employees about sick leave or work from home policies. Three percent have modified their supply chain or changed their buyers or vendors. Just over half (52%) have not felt the immediate need to take any measurable steps. Additional comments included owners taking action by talking with employees about helpful prevention practices, such as frequent hand washing and ordering supplies and inventory ahead of schedule.
The level of concern among small business owners about the coronavirus impacting their business varies greatly in these initial weeks of the outbreak. About 44% of small business owners are “somewhat” or “very” concerned about its potential impact on their business (28% and 16% respectively). Another 37% are slightly concerned and 18%, not at all concerned.
This survey was conducted with a random sample of NFIB’s membership database of about 300,000 small business owners. The survey was conducted by email between March 10-11, 2020. NFIB collected 300 usable responses, all small employers with 1-120 employees.