4 Consequences Small Businesses Face by Reopening Too Quickly After COVID

So, your business has been closed due to COVID. Should you reopen now? Here are some of the consequences your business could face if you reopen too soon.

Updated July 27, 2020

We’re all tired of dealing with COVID-19. And if you’re a small business owner, you’re more than tired — you’re desperate to reopen and get back to the livelihood you depend on before much more time passes.

Unfortunately, while new daily cases nationwide enjoyed a long, slow decline that continued into mid-June, since then cases have skyrocketed as states began to reopen.

The country went from reporting around 25,000 cases per day to more than 70,000 on July 22 — in contrast, the worst single-day total during the spring was 43,438 on April 6.

Before you throw open your doors, take a breath and think about a few serious potential repercussions you might face should you reopen before it’s wise to do so. Here are four consequences in particular that could cause tremendous problems for you and your business if you make the wrong choice.

1. Having to close again

Shuttering a business isn’t free. When you reopen, you have plenty of sunk costs, like new staff you’ve hired or perishable inventory you’ve ordered. If you have to shut down again, all those expenses will have been wasted.

You’ll also have opportunity costs. The time you lost in a futile attempt to reopen could have been spent reorganizing your business to adjust to the new reality, or instituting new protocols that would be more likely to keep you from being shut down after you do reopen.

2. Reputation damage

Reopening too quickly puts your customers and staff at risk.

Beyond the psychological damage it would cause if you were to feel the burden of guilt for being responsible for an outbreak, it could also cause damage to your reputation as a business if word got out that you were the epicenter of a COVID-19 flare-up.

People may view your business either as irresponsible or unsafe, or both.

3. Health risks

Beyond risking the health of your employees and customers, you risk your own health by reopening too soon. Opening likely means putting yourself in closer, riskier contact with other people, which puts you at an increased likelihood of coming down with the virus yourself.

Even if you're a reasonably healthy individual and you feel you are unlikely to die from the disease, remember that being hospitalized is pretty bad, too.

Although the elderly are most at risk, the CDC found that 13% of hospitalizations involved those between the ages of 50 and 64. And it’s much too early for anyone to say what the long-term health effects might be for those infected.

4. Lawsuits

If you reopen your business in defiance of state and local regulations, you may be laying the groundwork for a devastating lawsuit against you should someone become sick because of your decision.

If an individual can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that your actions were negligent and directly contributed to their sickness, your business could close for good under the weight of a significant judgment against you.

Make preparations for a grand reopening

Instead of rushing back to reopening with an old business model that might not even work anymore as customers permanently change their habits, use this opportunity to have a big, long think about how to adjust to this new landscape — and perhaps find an opportunity for growth.

Explore The Blueprint’s reviews of business software that can help you better manage your business when you do reopen so you can handle new complexities like keeping customers socially distant and instituting new cleaning regimens for your staff.

If you play this right, you may come out of this crisis stronger than ever.

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