Promising news about a coronavirus vaccine has small business owners feeling more upbeat despite cases of the virus surging in many parts of the U.S.
Owners hope consumers and businesses will be more relaxed about spending now that two drug companies, Pfizer and Moderna, have vaccines that data show were highly effective in testing. Some owners are rethinking their plans — some are holding off on staff cuts, while others say they’re more likely to renew their office leases even as employees still work from home.
But owners also realize many hurdles remain — the vaccines still require approval by the Food and Drug Administration, and then it will take time for millions of doses to be manufactured and widely distributed. It’s not clear how many people will decide to receive the vaccine, and in turn, how much of the population would be immune to the virus.
Meanwhile, the pandemic shows no signs of abating heading into the winter, prompting some state and local officials to increase restrictions on gatherings in public and private places. And regardless of what steps governments take, many people are limiting their activities as they fear contracting the virus.
John Ross had been concerned about his company’s revenue possibly slowing in the coming months, so he contemplated moving three of his 10 employees to part-time status and giving up his office when the lease is up for renewal in March. News about the vaccine has encouraged Ross, CEO of online educational company Test Prep Insight, to hold off on any major changes.
“I fully expect this vaccine news to give consumers the same jolt of confidence that I have felt. This hopefully means a quicker and strong recovery,” says Ross, whose company is based in Auburn, California.
Ross, whose website offers reviews of test prep materials for college and graduate school entrance exams and bar exams, has kept revenue stable by offering discounts. With those price breaks expiring soon, he was worried that students and their parents would have less incentive to buy. Many tests were canceled in the early months of the outbreak, and it’s not yet known whether the virus’s resurgence will lead to more cancellations.
Ross is more optimistic now, but still cautious — he won’t decide for sure on his office lease until more is known about the vaccine.
The pandemic has hit small businesses particularly hard. They don’t have the same cash reserves and access to lines of credit as larger businesses to help make up for a drop in revenue. While it’s not known how many companies have permanently closed during the pandemic, based on an estimate issued by the National Bureau of Economic Research during the spring the actual number is probably well into the hundreds of thousands. Additional government restrictions could put more companies at risk.
“The vaccine’s not coming tomorrow — it’s going to take a while,” says Michael Goldberg, an entrepreneurship professor at Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherhead School of Management. “It’s going to be tough.”
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Source:: News Headlines