Small-business owners trying to weather the coronavirus pandemic will face a financial blow that’s likely to be worse than what they experienced during the Great Recession more than a decade ago, says Karen Mills, senior fellow at Harvard Business School.
“This is going to be orders of magnitude worse than the financial crisis,” says Mills, who led the United States Small Business Administration from 2009 to 2013. “Many small businesses will not survive more than a month.” Small businesses have been scaling down and temporarily closing as consumers stay home to stem the spread of the highly infectious virus, also known as COVID-19. Without incoming cash, many small businesses—especially restaurants and shops on American Main Streets—will soon need to cut staff or shut down for good. “To many of these small businesses, daily cash flow is their lifeblood,” says Mills, who in recent days has been advising Congressional and business leaders about potential aid approaches. “Money in the door allows you to put money out the door.”