As in life, the Golden Rule directly applies to how a business should operate. Now, in this uncertain time, more than ever, it should be practiced over and over again. Small businesses stand to suffer in the coming months but there is a lot that fellow business owners can do to help mitigate this.
In Washington state, Governor Inslee is currently shutting restaurants and other related businesses down to slow the spread of the Coronavirus. This is going to be a very uncomfortable situation for many restaurants, especially those without the ability for curbside pickup. Restaurants run on such small margins that if this goes on for very long, there are going to be a lot of businesses that can’t survive. Since my business is focused on supporting these businesses, I’ll obviously feel the ripple effects, so I can empathize with the stress restaurant owners are under now. I’m not writing this to complain about my stressors though; I’m hoping people can take a deep breath and take a step back to see how their actions affect others.
There is an important principle I believe we can all take away from these times. As I've mentioned in previous articles, my personal beliefs are Judeo Christian beliefs. There's a lot of wisdom that I try to take out of my belief system, from Biblical wisdom. One of the most basic pieces of wisdom that actually applies to many belief systems is the concept of the Golden Rule: treating others as you want to be treated. (Luke 6:31) It’s a pretty basic concept we learned when we were kids. We teach our kids to treat others how they want to be treated so they themselves can have a good life.
The Golden Rule applies to business, too. In this period of uncertainty, it applies more than ever. Our natural reaction during these rough times when people are getting laid off their jobs and businesses are having to close their doors, is to simply stop spending money everywhere. There is an element of sensibility in that; it’s important not to just go into debt recklessly. But when I think about our local community here; I think about some of my food service clients that I know will suffer because of Covid-19 effects. If everyone gives in to the knee-jerk reaction of cinching down and they stop supporting their local businesses, there’s going to be a huge economic problem.
With all the digital mediums available now, we have the ability to spread the message: Protect yourself as much as possible but don’t stop supporting your local businesses. If we’re not careful, by the time we come out of this epidemic, many of the businesses could be gone. Restaurants especially operate on such tight margins, it doesn’t take much to take out a food service business. You are all going to feel the squeeze of the times. But the reality is if you’re scared for your business, the very worst thing you could do is stop supporting other businesses. The more we all support each other, the easier it will be for us all to get through this.
Many have been sharing that they’ve been buying gift cards to the places they usually frequent to help fund them up front. This is a great idea to help keep foodservice businesses afloat while they wait this out. Also, continue using businesses that offer pickup or delivery services. As things get more serious, people continue panicking and making ridiculous choices; the only people that are going to hurt are all of us.
We're hurting ourselves by making these poor decisions and from a business perspective, we're hurting our business community by failing to support them. Things may be uncomfortable for a bit, but that support is going to be the difference in them being around, and potentially your business being around in the future.
It's important in business to follow the principle of the golden rule of doing to others that which you would have them do to you. Not because you're expecting them to do for you, but because it's the right thing to do. And hopefully, they follow that same principle and it is reciprocated.