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entrepreneur skills

Beyond COVID-19: Prepare your entrepreneur skills for the survival of the fittest

Understanding how your entrepreneur skills need to change in a dynamic global world cannot be more essential than at this time of COVID-19. Even if you have a job, you should consider these changes in your professional skills for a changing world.

entrepreneur skills

(Photo credit by Simone Viani on Unsplash)

The expression “every cloud has a silver lining” (no hay mal que por bien no venga, similar in Spanish) means that even the worst events or situations have some positive aspect of which you can take advantage to make the necessary changes for the success of your business.

Many entrepreneurs will lose their sales and market share, others will have to definitely close their doors, and many will hopefully be able to quickly adjust to the new conditions.

Companies are starting to lay off employees and trying to adjust to the new working conditions in order to maintain their stake. However, this is not going away too soon, and the economic consequences can be as devastating as the Great Recession of 2007-2009.

Is your SWOT in place?

If you are familiar with the SWOT analysis, as you should be, you know that the O stands for Opportunities and the T stands for Threats. Every small business owner must be in constant alert of changes in their market or current clients, their potential market or future clients, and the current regional, national and global change of affairs.

In that way, you can make adjustments to the way you conduct your business, find opportunities to offer new products that are needed by your customers, and especially, prepare your entrepreneur skills to respond to these changes.

A personal story about not “seeing it coming”

One of the “lessons learned” that I regret the most was the loss of our publication, Periodico Latino!, the first side-by-side bilingual newspaper in New Jersey. Following my passion for writing, I started the publication as a small pamphlet to promote and advertise our business.

However, the publication took off and soon we went from 8 to 32 pages, mailing it for free to over 8000 households in Central New Jersey, and distributing another 8000 issues through churches, bodegas, marketas, Latino restaurants, and more. It was an expensive undertaken, and we paid dearly for it.

It was the early 2000s, and I could have quickly jumped into a digital version of the publication. The Internet was starting to grow and many publishers were going into that direction. I stayed with paper, and we had to fold the publication almost three years later.

entrepreneur skills

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Change your priorities with new entrepreneur skills

So, what is the silver lining in the COVID-19 situation? Let’s quickly review new entrepreneur skills necessary to survive in the new world. You can also follow these guidelines if you have a job or are looking for a job.

  1. Identify your strengths and weaknesses and work on them

As a business owner, you wear many hats all the time. However, it is essential that you understand your personal and professional strengths and weaknesses. This knowledge will help with your business decisions, the partnerships you can bring on, and where and when to find the exact help you need.

Take this time to identify your business and your strengths and weaknesses. Set up a contingency plan to make quick decisions. Are there areas that can be automated? Do you need to reinforce your online presence? Can you quickly innovate or create products -for instance, digital products or services- that can serve your customers now and in the future? Can you find new sources of revenue that will help your business survive and even thrive in times like this one?

  1. Work at having a strong personal and/or business brand

Having a strong personal and/or business brand has become the only way that your business or you -if you are looking for a job- can stand out from the crowd.

Customers are looking for a brand they can identify with for its values, its products, its customer friendliness and the extended-value or satisfaction that can bring them to being associated with a brand that represents them well. Learn from sports and try to understand why you root for your favorite baseball or football team!

On the same token, customers will look for brands that take leadership and care for their customers at the time of need. What can you do during this time to let your customers -current and potential- know that you care for their situation (instead of feeling sorry for yourself about the financial misery you’re going through)?

Large employers as well as small businesses favor employees and new hires that demonstrate leadership and caring for their brand. Ideally, your personal brand should have some overlap with the company or business brand you work for.

Stop obsessing over social media and bad news, and work on ways you can present your business or yourself as a brand that makes a positive change in the world. When your self-improvement is your top priority, you’ll find yourself ready to thrive in any circumstance! 

  1. More than ever, rely on the Internet to conduct your business

If  you are not already there, you need to quickly start having a strong online presence. “Social distance” is causing many businesses to fail due to the needed interpersonal relationship with customers. Adding some of these entrepreneur skills will help you in maintaining that relationship now and always.

  • Increase your offering online and make your customers look for your choices and continue the relationship you had in person.
  • Even in bad times, coupons and discounts help people take advantage of those offers while ordering regular priced items. For instance, if you are in the food industry, empty supermarkets and fear of contagion will help your business thrive with targeted delivery options!
  • If you have not done it yet, build your customer database immediately! Email, texting and even telemarketing can rapidly create response to your offers.
  • Continue to contact your customers regularly with personal videos about your concern for them, what you are doing to keep up with the times, and how you’d want to continue your relationship with them. Offer a video with an extra class or idea about your business.  Telling them about your values and your concern will keep your business fresh in their memory!
  • Social selling is a paramount part of your business success so invite people to make comments and engage them in a conversation about ways to overcome their fears and boredom!
  • Along with your online presence, social networks represent a key part of any business’s marketing strategy. Make an effort to understand how each platform works, you’ll want to arm yourself with the best strategies for getting your startup and personal brand noticed on each one.

You might be interested: SBA provides Disaster Assistance Loans for Coronavirus impacted small businesses by states

entrepreneur skills

(Image by Rob de Roy from Pixabay)

We are living in a new world, and we will see the actions and consequences of these events more frequently. Man-made diseases and natural disasters are forcing us to quickly learn new ways of survival and adaptation.

The old phrase “the survival of the fittest” continues to be truth.

However, Michael Le Page, a reporter at New Scientist, tells us, “although the phrase conjures up an image of a violent struggle for survival, in reality the word ‘fittest’ seldom means the strongest or the most aggressive. On the contrary, it can mean anything from the best camouflaged or the most fecund to the cleverest or the most cooperative. Forget Rambo, think Einstein or Gandhi.”

pandemic consequences

Pandemia del COVID-19: ¿Hay un lado positivo en “la tormenta perfecta”?

A medida que todos estamos cada vez más preocupados por las consecuencias de la pandemia de COVID-19, cuándo y cómo terminará esta historia, un buen lugar para comenzar es tratar de apaciguar nuestras mentes, enfocándonos en cuidarnos a nosotros mismos y cómo cuidarnos los unos a los otros. Además, es una gran oportunidad para elevar nuestra conciencia individual y comunitaria al reflexionar sobre las consecuencias de esta crisis.

pandemic consequences, pandemia

Note: The map shows the known locations of coronavirus cases by county. Circles are sized by the number of people there who have tested positive, which may differ from where they contracted the illness. Some people who traveled overseas were taken for treatment in California, Nebraska and Texas. Puerto Rico and the other U.S. territories are not shown. Sources: State and local health agencies, hospitals, C.D.C. Data as of 3:02 P.M. E.T., Mar. 30. (Photo credit: Screenshot from The New York Times, Coronavirus in the US: Latest Map and Case Count).

Hace muchos años, participé en un programa que apoya a amigos y familiares de alcohólicos. Esos fueron tiempos difíciles pero también me dieron una gran oportunidad para mi propio crecimiento personal.

Mientras recogía pensamientos para este artículo, recordé una frase que solíamos repetir con frecuencia en el programa: “Cuando señalas con el dedo a alguien, hay tres dedos más que te señalan a ti” o “señalan hacia atrás.” [“When you point a finger at someone, there are three more fingers pointing back at you.”]

Como persona involucrada en los medios y la comunicación, trato de mantenerme informada sobre la pandemia del coronavirus sin caer en pánico o en la incredulidad. Por el contrario, trato de dar sentido a la información que obtengo retrocediendo un paso o dos mientras trato de ubicar la información en un contexto más amplio.

Hemos vivido otras situaciones aterradoras y devastadoras en los Estados Unidos: Katrina, Sandy y María, solo por nombrar algunos huracanes; incendios forestales en el Oeste o tornados en el Medio Oeste estadounidense; la Gran Recesión del 2007-2009, y finalmente el ataque del 11 de septiembre (9/11), fecha que muchos estadounidenses han jurado “nunca olvidar”. ¿Pero, qué hemos aprendido de estas experiencias hasta ahora, y qué es lo que nunca debemos olvidar?

alcoholic anonymus

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  1. El primer dedo que nos señala (o señala hacia atrás): Demonizar a otros países por iniciar la pandemia

La culpa del origen de la pandemia COVID-19 sigue yendo y viniendo entre China y los Estados Unidos. ¿Es un virus de laboratorio, es zoonótico, originado en animales y transmitido a humanos, o un acto de Dios para castigar a las personas? Estas y otras versiones inundan las redes sociales como ríos de montaña en el deshielo de la primavera.

Según los expertos mundiales en salud, los coronavirus son una familia de virus, y COVID-19 es el nuevo virus, séptimo de su familia y no el último. “Eso no es un ‘tal vez’, es un hecho”, dice Alanna Shaikh, una consultora de salud global que se especializa en resiliencia individual, organizacional y sistémica. Shaikh estudia la interacción entre las poblaciones y los sistemas de salud. Graduada de la Universidad de Georgetown y Boston, Shaikh estuvo en el Congo hace unos años para estudiar la evolución del virus del Ébola.

Kate Jones, presidenta de ecología y biodiversidad en UCL, llama a las enfermedades infecciosas emergentes transmitidas por animales como una “amenaza creciente y muy significativa para la salud, la seguridad y las economías mundiales”. Con un equipo de investigadores, Jones ha identificado 335 enfermedades infecciosas emergentes que han comenzado a afectar a los humanos desde la década de 1960, incluidos el VIH, el SARS y el Ébola. Todos ellos, se cree, son de origen zoonótico.

“La irrupción en los bosques vírgenes impulsados ​​por la tala, la minería, la construcción de carreteras a través de lugares remotos, la rápida urbanización y el crecimiento de la población está acercando las personas a especies animales que nunca antes habían estado en contacto con humanos”, dice la experta.

Estas expertas coinciden en que las epidemias recientes y ahora las pandemias son el resultado de cómo estamos interactuando con el planeta. Esto causa que el mundo sea más hospitalario para virus y bacterias desconocidos que aparecen al destruirse la jungla para la agricultura, cazar animales salvajes hasta su extinción y traspasar los límites del mundo natural, mientras se invaden los últimos lugares vírgenes de nuestro planeta.

  1. El segundo dedo que nos señala (o señala hacia atrás): Los “regímenes autoritarios” tienen más éxito en el control de la pandemia
pandemia

People in Macau, queue up to acquire face masks in a pharmacy under a program established by the government to supply all the population with masks to avoid hoarding and stock ruptures and price hikes. (RW)(Photo credit Unsplashed Macau Photo Agency)

Algunos países asiáticos están manejando la pandemia de manera más efectiva que los países europeos y los Estados Unidos. Si los regímenes autoritarios –que no todos lo son– logran aplanar la curva de contagio, podría haber otros factores en la base de este éxito.

Según STAT Plus, una publicación de análisis biofarmacéutico, de políticas de salud y ciencias de la vida, –en su número del 20 de marzo de 2020–, declaró que, “China, que ahora está diagnosticando más casos en los viajeros que regresan al país que en las personas infectadas nativas, no informó nuevos casos en el país el pasado miércoles, por primera vez en más de dos meses. Corea del Sur, que tuvo un brote explosivo que comenzó en febrero, está tratando agresivamente su curva epidémica. Singapur, Hong Kong y Taiwán han reportado en total solo alrededor de 600 casos”.

El artículo continúa explicando un número detallado de las medidas agresivas que estos países asiáticos han tomado para contener las consecuencias de la pandemia. En suma, parece que obligar a millones a ponerse en cuarentena con fuertes multas para las personas que no cumplen, aislar las fronteras y prohibir los viajes desde China, donde se cree que comenzó la pandemia, fueron decisiones efectivas seguidas de una respuesta rápida de la población en estos países.

Sin embargo, y lo más importante, parecen ser las pruebas de laboratorio. Tener suficientes y constantes pruebas de laboratorio para identificar todos los casos, pacientes infectados sospechosos y reales, parece ser la clave para una recuperación más rápida.

“Más de un cuarto de millón de personas han sido evaluadas antes del 15 de marzo, dijo recientemente la ministra de Relaciones Exteriores, Kang Kyung-wha, a la BBC”, continúa el artículo. “Las pruebas de laboratorio son fundamentales porque eso lleva a la detección temprana. Reduce al mínimo la propagación y se trata rápidamente a los que se encuentran con el virus “, señala el artículo del Ministro de Relaciones Exteriores, quien sugiere que solo la detección temprana y el tratamiento rápido de los casos es la respuesta a una tasa más baja de muertes.

Ahora, ¿cómo se pueden lograrse estas medidas en tan poco tiempo? Estos “regímenes autoritarios” tienen sistemas de salud universales que alientan a las personas a hacerse pruebas y recibir tratamiento.

  • La atención médica en China consta de instituciones médicas públicas y privadas y programas de seguro de salud. Alrededor del 95% de la población tiene al menos un seguro de salud básico.
  • Singapur se basa en gran medida en un sistema de salud universal administrado por el gobierno con una importante atención médica privada. Además, la financiación de los costos de atención médica se realiza a través de una combinación de subsidios gubernamentales directos, ahorros obligatorios, seguro nacional de salud y costos compartidos.
  • El sistema de salud de Corea del Sur es administrado por el Ministerio de Salud y Bienestar y es gratuito para todos los ciudadanos en el punto de servicio.
  • El sistema de atención médica de Hong Kong se divide en dos opciones: atención médica pública y atención médica privada. Si se opta por la atención médica pública, no se necesita un seguro médico privado en Hong Kong. El gobierno proporciona todos los servicios públicos de salud de forma gratuita o por una pequeña tarifa.

En cambio, muchos estadounidenses temen presentarse a un centro de salud o llamar para hacerse la prueba de laboratorio o recibir tratamiento debido a la falta de cobertura de salud. Otros están perdiendo sus beneficios al perder sus trabajos. Los casos más urgentes tuvieron que esperar a que los gobiernos estatales tomaran medidas extraordinarias y subsidiaran las pruebas de laboratorio, a medida que pasaba el tiempo…

Los datos de la Oficina del Censo de los EE.UU. indican que un total de 27.5 millones de estadounidenses no tenían seguro médico a fines de 2018. La población asegurada disminuyó en más de una década después de que se promulgó la Ley de Cuidados de Salud Estadounidense (ACA – conocida por “Obamacare”) en 2010.

Un estudio publicado por KFF.org ha concluido que, en este momento, la mayoría de los estadounidenses sin seguro provienen de hogares de bajos ingresos. Los adultos tienen un mayor riesgo de no tener seguro en comparación con los niños y los ancianos, al igual que las personas de color en comparación con los blancos. Veremos cómo estos números se reflejan en las consecuencias de la pandemia de COVID-19 y en las estadísticas de casos y muertes.

  1. El tercer dedo que nos señala (o señala hacia atrás): El éxito en la vida depende de cada individuo, y de ejercer la libertad de tomar sus propias decisiones.
pandemic consequences, pandemia

(Photo credit Unsplash by Jordan Hopkins)

En los Estados Unidos, hemos visto una explosión de la pandemia que sigue creciendo, y crece más rápido que en todos los demás países, incluidos Italia y China. En un principio, se dejó que los estadounidenses tomaran sus propias decisiones, con directivas más flexibles y sin imponerse la obligación de cuarentena o “quedarse en casa”.

Los esfuerzos del gobierno federal, así como de los estados individuales y los CDC (Centros para el Control y la Prevención de Enfermedades) han sido caóticos y no sincronizados, distribuyendo información confusa a los medios y dejando la carga de la respuesta a la pandemia a los estados que han sido golpeados más intensamente.

El noreste de los Estados Unidos es ahora el epicentro mundial de la pandemia.

La respuesta de la gente, por otro lado, ha sido desigual e irresponsable en algunos casos, incluyendo continuar con la realización de eventos masivos, bodas, galas y eventos más pequeños, y la continuación de viajes al extranjero y domésticos. Los políticos temen las críticas y represalias de los votantes si intentan imponer medidas más estrictas a sus electores.

Las empresas están despidiendo a sus empleados, más de 3,3 millones de nuevas solicitudes de desempleo se informaron la semana pasada, y las personas deben actuar y sobrevivir por su cuenta. Algunos negocios y residentes aún no se han recuperado de los huracanes y la Gran Recesión 2007-2009. Ahora se enfrentan a esta amenaza sin nuevos recursos valiosos.

Pero estos no eran los Estados Unidos de hace 50 años. Antes de que el presidente Reagan asumiera el cargo y abogara por la economía de libre mercado, el contrato social del país se basaba en salarios más altos y beneficios confiables para los trabajadores y empleados que ofrecían los principales empleadores y el estado.

La era del Nuevo Trato (The New Deal) –1930 a 1970–, creó un ambiente para sindicatos fuertes debido a la competencia mundial limitada y una legislación más regulada sobre empresas y corporaciones. La etiqueta “made in USA” era el signo de innovación y creatividad en el mundo. En cierto sentido, era un acuerdo de “participación en las ganancias” entre empleadores y empleados, que recibían salarios, beneficios y pensiones más altos para ellos y sus familias.

Según Josh Freedman y Michael Lind, “Parte de la motivación era cultural: antes de que la noción del capitalismo de accionistas se arraigara en la década de 1980, las compañías consideraban que era parte de su misión actuar en interés de todos sus grupos de entorno incluidos los trabajadores y sus comunidades, en lugar de solo en interés de los inversores. Sin embargo, las empresas también favorecían el acuerdo porque proporcionar beneficios a los trabajadores les daba influencia directa en el trato con los sindicatos ”.

pandemic consequences

Dow Jones 100-year Historial Chart (Photo Credit Macrotrends March 30, 2020)

Y luego llegaron los años 80 con la economía del “trickle-down” o la idea de que debían reducirse los impuestos sobre las empresas y los ricos para estimular la inversión a corto plazo y beneficiar a la sociedad en general a largo plazo.

En las últimas cinco décadas, la brecha salarial entre los altos ejecutivos y los trabajadores se ha ampliado exponencialmente; ahora un CEO gana 278 veces el salario de un trabajador promedio. Desde la década de 1980, la compensación para un CEO aumentó 1.007.5% en comparación con un aumento de 11.9% para los trabajadores promedio, según el Instituto de Política Económica.

El crecimiento de los salarios comenzó a disminuir mientras que la acumulación de riqueza comenzó a concentrarse en el segmento de clase alta de la población. La riqueza no se dirigió a la innovación y la creatividad, sino a crear instrumentos financieros para concentrar la riqueza y redituar en forma masiva a las inversiones de las partes interesadas.

Con la popularización de Internet en los años 90 y la globalización del comercio, las compañías estadounidenses comenzaron a mover su producción y sus fábricas al extranjero para reducir los costos de sus productos mientras aumentaban enormemente su margen de ganancias. Pero los resultados de este beneficio no llegaron a los trabajadores estadounidenses, tal como ya lo sabemos.

Las empresas se alejaron del compromiso con sus trabajadores y comunidades a cambio de un nuevo “contrato social de bajos salarios”. ¿El razonamiento? Si los precios de los bienes eran más bajos, aunque los márgenes fueron más altos, ¿por qué aumentar los salarios?

Con impuestos corporativos más bajos y una economía menos regulada, el Estado tuvo que convertirse en el proveedor de asistencia social para poblaciones cada vez más empobrecidas. Las mujeres comenzaron a trabajar fuera del hogar para que la familia pudiera llegar a fin de mes. Ahora una familia requería dos salarios para satisfacer sus necesidades básicas.

Aun cuando los elementos básicos como la ropa y la comida eran más accesibles, “… otros servicios necesarios (atención médica, guardería, cuidado de ancianos y la educación universitaria) se han vuelto menos asequibles y más importantes ya que la mayoría de las madres trabajan fuera del hogar, y el costo para asistir a la universidad sigue creciendo”, dice el artículo.

Y continúa: “En 1960, la familia promedio gastaba alrededor de $12,000 en dólares ajustados a la inflación en cuidado infantil, educación y atención médica durante el transcurso de 17 años criando a un niño. Cuatro décadas después, la familia promedio gastaba casi $ 63,000 por niño. Los gastos médicos de bolsillo ahora empujan a más personas por debajo del umbral de pobreza sin que los subsidios estatales existentes puedan ayudar a evitarlo”, dijeron Freedman y Lind.

Ahora, y lo que es más importante, estos cambios económicos no habrían sido posibles si no se hubiera popularizado el fortalecimiento de la teoría de la autodeterminación para apoyar dicho desarrollo económico.

En 1985, el trabajo de los psicólogos Edward Deci y Richard Ryan introdujo la idea de “La Autodeterminación y la Motivación Intrínseca en el Comportamiento Humano“. La idea detrás de la teoría sugiere que las personas tienden a ser impulsadas por la “motivación”, fuerzas biológicas, emocionales, sociales y cognitivas que activan el comportamiento. El resultado sugiere que las personas que no están motivadas no pueden tener éxito en la vida y proveer adecuadamente para sí mismas y sus familias.

¿Hay un lado positivo en la pandemia de COVID-19?

Así, aquí nos encontramos, completando el círculo y llegando a “la tormenta perfecta”, una combinación de eventos o circunstancias que crean una situación inusualmente mala: La explosión y las consecuencias de la pandemia como resultado de una sociedad que empuja un falso sentido de “libertad” en las decisiones que las personas toman y cómo manejan sus propias vidas; una gran cantidad de población sin cobertura de seguro de salud; y buscando a quien culpar en lugar de asumir las responsabilidades por el daño que hemos provocado constantemente en nuestro planeta y la falta de planificación estratégica frente a la desconocido.

pandemic consequences

(Photo Credit Unsplash by NASA)

Las sociedades orientales están respondiendo mejor y más rápido a la pandemia porque su filosofía de vida reafirma que las acciones y los pensamientos de las personas son parte del continuo de una sociedad que crea el sentido de la vida.

El verdadero sentido del “yo” se encuentra a su alrededor como parte de un plan más amplio, la creencia de que cada individuo juega un papel para el bien de la sociedad. El principio principal es la unidad y actúan en consecuencia.

Como mencioné al principio, pasamos por varios desastres antes, desastres naturales o desastres provocados por el hombre como el 9/11. Residía en este país en ese momento y recuerdo la intensa sensación de duelo colectivo, comunidad y solidaridad que duró unas pocas semanas.

Pero lo que juramos “nunca olvidar” no fueron los aspectos positivos de las consecuencias, los que nos unieron como nación, el dolor y el reconocimiento de nuestras vulnerabilidades.

Frente a COVID-19, ¿vamos a volver a unirnos, más fuertes y mejores, como a nuestros líderes políticos les encanta proclamar?

¿Aprenderemos finalmente que el bien general proviene de dejar a un lado nuestras ambiciones personales? ¿Cómo se unirán las naciones para enfrentar las consecuencias de estas acciones, entendiendo que ningún país está aislado y obligado a enfrentar sus propias adversidades como tampoco lo están sus poblaciones?

Esta crisis se superará, pero las consecuencias de nuestras acciones dirán cómo hemos crecido como humanidad y cuántas otras lecciones aún tendremos que aprender.

You might be interested: Beyond COVID-19: Prepare your entrepreneur skills for the survival of the fittest

 

pandemic consequences

C0VID-19 pandemic: A silver lining in the perfect storm?

As we all get increasingly concerned about the COVID-19 pandemic consequences, when and how this story in going to end, appeasing our minds is a good place to start, focusing on taking care of ourselves and how to take care of each other. Also, it is a great opportunity to elevate our individual and community consciousness by reflecting on the consequences of this  event.

pandemic consequences

Note: The map shows the known locations of coronavirus cases by county. Circles are sized by the number of people there who have tested positive, which may differ from where they contracted the illness. Some people who traveled overseas were taken for treatment in California, Nebraska and Texas. Puerto Rico and the other U.S. territories are not shown. Sources: State and local health agencies, hospitals, C.D.C. Data as of 3:02 P.M. E.T., Mar. 30. (Photo credit: Screenshot from The New York Times, Coronavirus in the US: Latest Map and Case Count).

Many years back, I was involved in a program that supports friends and family of alcoholics. Those were challenging times but also a great opportunity for personal growth.

While collecting thoughts for this article, I remembered a phrase we used to repeat frequently in the program: “When you point a finger at someone, there are three more fingers pointing back at you.”

As a person involved in media and communication, I try to stay informed about the coronavirus pandemic without falling into panic or disbelief. On the opposite, I try to make sense of the information I get by standing back a step or two while trying to place the information in a broader context.

We have lived through other scary and devastating situations in the United States: Katrina, Sandy and Maria, just to name a few hurricanes; wild fires in the West; tornados in the Mid-West; the 2007-2009 Great Recession, and finally the attack on 9/11, which many Americans have sworn “Never (to) Forget.” What have we learned from these experiences so far, and what should we never forget?

alcoholic anonymus

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The first finger pointing back: Demonizing other countries for starting the pandemic

The blame of the COVID-19 pandemic’s origin keeps going back and forth between China and the USA. Is it a lab virus, is it zoonotic –originated in animals and transmitted to humans– or the act of God to punish people? These and other versions are pouring on social media like mountain rivers flooding in the spring.

According to global health experts, coronaviruses are a family of virus, and COVID-19 is the novel, the 7th in its family, and not the last. “That is not a maybe, that’s a given,” says Alanna Shaikh, a global health consultant who specializes in individual, organizational and systemic resilience. She studies the interaction between populations and health systems. A graduate from Georgetown and Boston University, Shaikh was in Congo to study the evolution of Ebola virus a few years back.

Kate Jones, chair of ecology and biodiversity at UCL, calls emerging animal-borne infectious diseases an “increasing and very significant threat to global health, security and economies.” With a team of researchers, Jones has identified 335 emerging infectious diseases that have started affecting humans since the 1960s, including HIV, SARS and Ebola, all of them believed to be of zoonotic origin.

“The disruption of pristine forests driven by logging, mining, road building through remote places, rapid urbanization and population growth is bringing people into closer contact with animal species they may never have been near before,” she says.

These experts agree recent epidemics and now pandemics are the result of how we are interacting with the planet, making the world more hospitable to unknown viruses and bacteria by destroying jungle for farming, hunting wild animals to extinction, and pushing the boundaries of the natural world while invading last wild places in our planet

  1. The second finger pointing back: “Authoritarian regimes” are more successful at controlling the pandemic

People in Macau, queue up to acquire face masks in a pharmacy under a program established by the government to supply all the population with masks to avoid hoarding and stock ruptures and price hikes. (RW)(Photo credit Unsplashed Macau Photo Agency)

Some Asian countries are handling the crisis more effectively than European countries and the USA. If authoritarian regimes -which not all of them are- managed to flatten the contagion curve, other factors might be at the base of this success.

According to STAT Plus, a biopharma, health policy, and life science analysis publication, in its March 20, 2020 issue stated that “China, which is now diagnosing more cases in returning travelers than in people infected at home, reported no new domestically acquired cases on Wednesday, for the first time in more than two months. South Korea, which had an explosive outbreak that began in February, is aggressively battering down its epidemic curve. Singapore, Hong Kong, and Taiwan have together reported only about 600 cases.”

The article continues to explain a detailed number of aggressive measures these Asian countries have taken to contain the pandemic consequences. In summary, it seems that forcing millions into quarantine with hefty fines for non-compliant individuals, isolating borders, and banning travel from China –where the pandemic is believed to have started– were effective decisions followed by rapid response of the population in these countries.

However, and most importantly, testing, testing and testing the population to identify all cases –suspected and actual infected patients– seems to be key to a faster recovery.

“More than a quarter million people had been tested by March 15, Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha told the BBC recently,” the article continues. “Testing is central because that leads to early detection. It minimizes further spread and it quickly treats those found with the virus,” the article quotes the Foreign Minister, who suggests only early detection and fast treatment of cases is the response to lower rate deaths.

Now how can these measures be achieved in such a short notice? These “authoritarian regimes” have universal health systems that encourage people to be tested and treated.

  • Healthcare in China consists of both public and private medical institutions and insurance programs. About 95% of the population has at least basic health insurance.
  • Singapore largely consists of a government-run universal healthcare system with a significant private healthcare  In addition, financing of healthcare costs is done through a mixture of direct government subsidies, compulsory savings, national healthcare insurance, and cost sharing.
  • The South Korean healthcare system is run by the Ministry of Health and Welfare and is free to all citizens at the point of delivery.
  • Hong Kong’s healthcare system is divided into two options: public healthcare and private medical care. If you opt for the public healthcare option, you do not need private Hong Kong health insurance. The government provides all public healthcare services free of charge or for a small fee.

Instead, many Americans are afraid of showing up at a health facility, or calling to be tested or treated because of lack of health coverage. Others are losing their benefits while losing their jobs. Most needed cases had to wait for state governments to take extraordinary measures and subsidize testing, as time goes by…

Data from the US Census Bureau indicates that a total of 27.5 million Americans had no health insurance during 2018. The insured population decreased in more than a decade after the American Care Act (ACA) was enacted in 2010.

A study published by KFF.org has concluded that, at this time, the majority of uninsured Americans come from low-income households. Adults are at a higher risk of being uninsured compared to children and the elderly, as are people of color when compared to whites. We will see how these numbers reflect in COVID-19 pandemic consequences in cases and deaths statistics.

3.The third finger pointing back: Success depends on each individual to be responsible for their choices and managing their own life. 

pandemic consequences

(Photo credit Unsplash by Jordan Hopkins)

In the US, we have seen an explosion of the pandemic that is now growing bigger and faster than in all other countries including Italy and China. Americans have been left to make their own choices with loser guidelines and “stay at home” unenforced directives.

The efforts of the federal government as well as individual states and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) have been chaotic and not synced, distributing confusing information to the media, and leaving the burden of the pandemic response to states that have been hit more intensively.

The US Northeast is now the world epicenter of the pandemic.

People’s response, on the other hand, has been uneven and irresponsible in some cases, including carrying out massive events, weddings, galas, and smaller events, and continuing abroad and domestic travel. Politicians are afraid of criticism and voters’ retaliation if they try to impose more stringent measures to their constituents.

Companies are laying off -over 3.3MM new unemployment applications were reported last week– and people are left to act and survive on their own. Some have not yet recovered from hurricanes and the 2007-2009 Great Recession. They are now facing this threat without valuable resources.

But this was not America 50 years ago. Before President Reagan took office and advocated for the free-market economics, the country’s social contract was based on higher wages and reliable benefits to workers and employees provided by main employers.

The New Deal era –1930s to 1970s–, created an environment for strong unions because of limited global competition and more regulated legislation on businesses and corporations. The label “made in USA” was the sign of innovation and ingenuity in the world. In a sense, it was a “profit-share” agreement between employers and employees, who received higher salaries, benefits and pensions for them and their families.

According to Josh Freedman and Michael Lind, “Part of the motivation was cultural: Before the notion of shareholder capitalism took root in the 1980s, companies viewed it as part of their mission to act in the interest of all of their stakeholders, including workers and their communities, rather than in the interest of investors alone. However, companies also favored the arrangement because providing benefits to workers directly gave them some leverage against labor unions.”

pandemic consequences

Dow Jones 100-year Historial Chart (Photo Credit Macrotrends March 30, 2020)

And then came the 80s with the trickle-down economy and the idea that taxes on businesses and the wealthy should be reduced to stimulate investment in the short term while benefiting society at large in the long term.

In the last five decades, the pay gap between top executives and workers has widened exponentially, now a CEO making 278 times the average worker. Since the 1980s, the compensation for a CEO rose 1,007.5% compared to an increase of 11.9% for average workers, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Salaries’ growth started to lower down while accumulation of wealth began to concentrate at the top. The wealth was not directed to innovation and ingenuity but to create financial instruments to gather and serve massive stakeholders’ investments.

With the popularization of the Internet in the 90s and the globalization of trade, American companies started to manufacture abroad to lower costs for their products while wildly increasing margin profits. But the results of this benefit did not trickle down to American workers, as we know it.

Companies moved away from commitment to their workers and communities in exchange for a low-wage social contract. The reasoning? If prices of goods were lower –although margins were higher–, then why raise wages?

With lower corporate taxes and a less regulated economy, the State had to become the welfare provider for increasingly impoverish populations. Women started to work outside the home to make ends meet. Now a family required two salaries to provide for their basic needs.

Even if basics like clothing and food were more accessible, “… other necessary services—health care, daycare, eldercare, and college—have simultaneously become less affordable and more important as most mothers work outside of the home and the wage premium for college remains high,” the article says.

And it continues, “In 1960, the average family spent about $12,000 in inflation-adjusted dollars on childcare, education, and healthcare over the course of 17 years raising a child. Four decades later, the average family spends almost $63,000 per child. Medical out-of-pocket expenses now push more people below the poverty line than tax credits can lift above it,” said Freedman and Lind.

Now, and more importantly, these economics changes would not have been possible if a strengthening of the self-determination theory had not been popularized to support such economic development.

In 1985, the work of psychologists Edward Deci and Richard Ryan introduced the idea of Self-Determination and Intrinsic Motivation in Human Behavior. The idea behind the theory suggested that people tend to be driven by “motivation,” biological, emotional, social, and cognitive forces that activate behavior. The result suggests that people who are not motivated cannot be successful in life and properly provide for themselves and their families.

Is there a silver lining in the COVID-19 pandemic?

So here we find ourselves completing the full circle and coming to “the perfect storm,” a combination of events or circumstances creating an unusually bad situation: The explosion and pandemic consequences in a society that pushes a false sense of “freedom” in the choices people make and how they manage their own decisions, coupled by a large number of uninsured population, and the spread of blame instead of taking responsibility for the damage we have been consistently provoking in our planet and a lack of strategic planning in the face of the unknown.

pandemic consequences

(Photo Credit Unsplash by NASA)

Eastern societies are responding better and quicker to the pandemic because their philosophy of life reaffirms that people’s actions and thoughts are part of a society’s continuum that creates the meaning of life.

The true sense of “me” is found around them as a part of a bigger plan, a belief that each individual plays a part for the good of society. The main principle is unity and they act in consequence.

As I mentioned at the beginning, we went through several disasters before, natural disasters or man-made disasters like 9/11. I was in this country at the time, and I remember the intense sense of collective mourning, community and solidarity that lasted for a few weeks.

But what we sworn “never to forget” was not the positive aspects of the aftermath, the ones that brought us together as a nation, the pain and the recognition of our vulnerabilities.

In the face of COVID-19, are we going to come together, stronger and better, as our political leaders love to proclaim?

Would we finally learn that the greater good comes from leaving our personal ambitions aside? How would nations come together to face the consequences of these actions, understanding that no country is isolated and left to face adversities on their own as neither are their populations?

This too shall pass but the consequences of our actions will tell how we have grown as humankind and how many other lessons we will still need to learn.

You might be interested: Beyond COVID-19: Prepare your entrepreneur skills for the survival of the fittest

 

wellness, freelance, business cash flow

Beyond COVID-19: Be proactive about your business cash flow

Being proactive with your business cash flow is essential as we are waiting to see what the developments of this chaotic situation are going to be.  I have been contacting our banking institutions’ sponsors and alternative sources of funding for small businesses

wellness, freelance, business cash flow

Don’t delay and be proactive with your business cash flow
  1. Don’t delay to be proactive about your cash flow and your business. Your situation will turn sour pretty soon and your family will suffer.
  2. Talk to your financial institutions and see if they have any help for your business cash flow based on past performance. Some banks are only tending to their own clients and others are taking new clients as well. Shop around if your bank says no.
  3. Apply to all sources you can including SBA Loans but remember those will take time. It’s better to have business cash flow that you don’t touch or need than waiting for a miracle to happen.
  4. Do not, I repeat, do not touch your savings unless absolutely necessary. Your savings is the only guarantee you can show to your bank that you were a solid business and that you are just affected by this situation. We don’t know how long this will take and your savings should be your last resort.
  5. If you cannot go the traditional route, apply to alternative sources now and if you get a grant or federal loan later you can always pay your first loan off in advance with no penalty. However, be aware of scams and shark loans! Only work with alternative funding that you know or have been recommended.
  6. If your credit is not so good, our partners at National Biz are fantastic at approving quickly and with less conditions than banks.

Finally, be proactive with your business cash flow and think of ways your business can still exist in the next three months. For instance, if you are a retail or personal service business, contact your clients and ask them if they would buy a gift certificate with no due date.

Go for small amounts: $5, $10, $15 can make a pool of clients that might or might not use the gift certificate in the future. Ask for their support by doubling the amount of the gift certificate at the time of service. (if it’s $5, you will give them $10 value).

You might be interested: Beyond COVID-19: Prepare your entrepreneur skills for the survival of the fittest

Organize other contests, prizes, online auctions and anything that can get their attention at this time. Remember everybody is stuck at home and going berserk on social media!

To talk to Valley Bank, please contact Fatima Pearn FPearn@valley.com

To talk to Investors Bank, please contact Carlos Yepez cyepez@investorsbank.com

To talk to PNC Bank, please contact Samreen Malik, samreen.malik@pnc.com

To talk to National Business Capital and Services, please go to their site National Business Capital and Services.

business loan

SBA provides Disaster Assistance Loans for Coronavirus impacted small businesses by states

Disaster Assistance Loans will be offered to small businesses in designated areas or regions to mitigate the effect of the pandemic caused by Coronavirus. The loans will be available once each state Governor requests the assistance. Stay tuned to receive additional information on when and were those loans will be available.

disaster assistance loans

Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator Jovita Carranza issued the following statement today in response to the President’s address to the nation: “The President took bold, decisive action to make our 30 million small businesses more resilient to Coronavirus-related economic disruptions. Small businesses are vital economic engines in every community and state, and they have helped make our economy the strongest in the world,” said Carranza.

The Agency will work directly with state Governors to provide targeted, low-interest disaster assistance loans to small businesses that have been severely impacted by the situation. Additionally, the SBA continues to assist small businesses with counseling and navigating their own preparedness plans through our network of 68 District Offices and numerous Resource Partners located around the country.

“The SBA will continue to provide every small business with the most effective and customer-focused response possible during these times of uncertainty,” Carranza stated.

SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans offer up to $2 million in assistance for a small business. These loans can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing.

Process for Accessing SBA’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Disaster Relief Lending (Disaster Assistance Loans)

  • The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering designated states and territories low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Upon a request received from a state’s or territory’s Governor, SBA will issue under its own authority, as provided by the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act that was recently signed by the President, an Economic Injury Disaster Loan declaration.
  • Any such Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance declaration issued by the SBA makes loans available to small businesses and private, non-profit organizations in designated areas of a state or territory to help alleviate economic injury caused by the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
  • SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance will coordinate with the state’s or territory’s Governor to submit the request for Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance.
  • Once a declaration is made for designated areas within a state, the information on the application process for Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance will be made available to all affected communities.
  • These Disaster Assistance Loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses without credit available elsewhere; businesses with credit available elsewhere are not eligible. The interest rate for non-profits is 2.75%.
  • SBA offers loans with long-term repayments in order to keep payments affordable, up to a maximum of 30 years. Terms are determined on a case-by-case basis, based upon each borrower’s ability to repay.
  • SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans are just one piece of the expanded focus of the federal government’s coordinated response, and the SBA is strongly committed to providing the most effective and customer-focused response possible.

You might be interested: Coronavirus: Information for Communities and the General Public from NJ.GOV

For additional information, please contact the SBA disaster assistance customer service center. Call 1-800-659-2955 (TTY: 1-800-877-8339) or e-mail disastercustomerservice@sba.gov(link sends e-mail).

coronavirus

Coronavirus: Information for Communities and the General Public from NJ.GOV

Coronavirus belongs to a large family of viruses that are common in people and many different species of animals.
COVID-19 (“coronavirus disease 2019”) is the disease caused by a novel (new) coronavirus that was first detected in humans in Wuhan, China in December 2019.
coronavirus
At this time, most people in the United States will have little immediate risk of exposure to this coronavirus. This virus is NOT currently spreading widely in the United States.

Steps you can take to prevent spread of flu and the common cold will also help prevent coronavirus:

  • Wash hands often with soap and water. If not available, use hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick
  • Stay home while you are sick and avoid contact with others
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing

Currently there are no vaccines available to prevent novel coronavirus infections.

coronavirus

 

Stay home when you are sick. Earned Sick Leave is the law in New Jersey.

As of October 2018, employers of all sizes must provide full-time, part-time, and temporary employees with up to 40 hours of earned sick leave per year so they can care for themselves or a loved one.

All About COVID-19

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