Business as usual (for most) despite the virus threat

Apr 01, 2020

Tony Byrne, managing director of Wealth & Tax Management

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AS I WRITE, the coronavirus remains a serious health issue but it pales into insignificance when compared to the number of road deaths worldwide every day. 3,700 people a day die in road accidents. So during the last two months there have been more road deaths than deaths from the coronavirus since it was first reported by the Chinese government at the start of this year.  

Even the flu kills far more people each and every day worldwide than the coronavirus. There are 1,770 deaths from flu worldwide every day which equates to 650,000 deaths a year.

I quote these figures not in order to dismiss the Coronavirus, which is clearly a serious epidemic, but more in order to put proper perspective on the outbreak.

No worldwide epidemic has ever had a long-lasting effect on world economies. There will inevitably be a longer economic slowdown this time, not least because China is now the engine of the world. So if China’s economy slows down then so will the rest of the world’s because, of course, China is now the supply chain manager of the world.

So what effect, if any, will the coronavirus have on your business? As usual, it depends. Most small businesses only operate in the domestic economy so they largely have nothing to worry about. For businesses that trade directly with China there is likely to be a negative impact on such businesses. However, this will affect very few businesses directly.

If you have a business that relies on imports from China, for example, obviously you should find alternative sources. Wherever possible you should have more than one overseas supplier source anyway in order to cover unexpected events such as these.  

Travel and tourism businesses are already being affected. Such businesses may well have to redirect attention to different markets, especially away from Asia.

If your business is one of the 90%-plus small businesses that have domestic customers only then I would say it is business as usual.

Tony Byrne is a chartered and certified financial planner, a chartered wealth manager and author of Wealth Magic.

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