The Coronavirus…and You!

You probably haven’t heard, but there’s a little virus going around.

Then again, you may have noticed subtle signs like the stock market shedding 3,000 points as sure as my Lab sheds fur in the summertime.

And, if I may be so bold, you might have even thought, “Hmmmm, I wonder if this might affect my business? Or my health? Or my family or my travel or my….”

Mine, of course, is just one man’s opinion, one man who’s listening to and reading exactly the same sources as you. And my thoughts are:

  • Bummer…the media is going to hype it and it will affect travel and events and one way or the other, we’re stuck with it for a while.
  • So, I wish it would just get here and move on. Is that a month? Six months? Will it “burn out” as the warm weather hits like influenza does? Wish I knew.
  • Might it impact your businesses? Will supply chains from China be impacted? Will prospective clients whose mutual funds just dropped like a rock decide to wait a month…or six?

I’m sure you could add to my list.

My life philosophy is one I have long called “optimistic fatalism.” That is, I am always hopeful for the best…but also realize my hoping has no impact on reality. It’s also easy here to invoke the Serenity Prayer. I’m sure you know it:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

You probably can’t change the path of Coronavirus, which would mean accepting whatever path it takes.

But there are things you can change, and I’m reminded of questions I asked of designers during the 2008 Great Recession. They were questions based on the worst-case scenario that business slows down, and here are a few of them:

  • What’s your timeline? If you’re still planning to be doing interior design 5-10 years from now, then it doesn’t really matter does it? You just have to hunker down and do the best you can do, or as Winston Churchill said, “When you’re going through Hell…keep going!”
  • If things really turn down, any cuts you have make in staff, overhead, etc. should be made sooner rather than later.
  • Lock your critical jobs in now, making sure your Letter of Agreement is sound and that retainers and deposits are paid early and often!
  • Communicate. If you get the willies about any of your jobs or clients, hit them right in the face with it and ask their intentions. You need to know.
  • Retool. The most uplifting message I heard from dozens of designers who suffered during the Great Recession (all of whom are still practicing today, by the way…) is that they used any downtime they had to improve their business processes, to learn, to create new systems and deploy new technology to enhance productivity when things bounced back…as they always do.

The optimist in me says that I may already be jumping the gun and giving you more of a negative vibe than I meant to. I think the virus is not going to be widespread, will cause fatalities only among the old and weak-of-health, and will not be much of a topic in 90 days. The markets will recover fully as President Trump rides the Fed and does whatever is necessary to make sure the economy is humming during election season.

And now you know what an optimistic fatalist is! Care to join me?


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