Mar 23, 2020When I was a reporter covering business and technology for InformationWeek, the Industry Standard and other publications, I always felt that I couldn't truly comprehend what the people I was covering were going through—the highs, the lows and the complexity of their situation. I did my best to report the facts and represent their situations honestly, but I never truly understood them or was able to communicate perfectly what they were enduring.
In 2002, I started my own business, which I continued to run until selling it in 2016. There were many great things about that experience—the staff I worked with every day to build the business, the partners in the industry we worked with and so on—but the one thing I value most is that I have a deeper sense of what the businesspeople we write about are going through.
Very few businesses and employees around the world are not being affected by the coronavirus. Factories are closing. Stores are slashing their hours. Teachers are having to deliver lessons remotely over the Internet. As I read the news and watch reports on television, my heart aches. I empathize particularly with small businesses, such as restaurants and bars, that will go under because they cannot survive being without customers or revenue for several weeks. My heart aches for the workers being laid off from these establishments and many others.
The economy is taking a terrible hit. Small businesses, midsize businesses, large businesses—they are all being hurt. Workers are being hurt. Businesses will go under. People will lose their homes. My thoughts and prayers are with you.
We will get through this, of course. Many businesses are being incredibly flexible and accommodating in allowing partners to delay payments or shipments, whatever it takes. I know this won't be any consolation to companies fighting to survive, but for what it's worth, this experience will make you a better manager and make your company stronger.
I really didn't know how to run my company until the financial crisis hit in September 2008. There were times throughout 2009 when I thought we'd go bankrupt. But I learned how to manage cash flow as never before. We cut every ounce of fat from the company. We innovated with new products. And we came out stronger when it was over.
My wish today is that all of the businesses threatened by the coronavirus fallout will find the strength, fortitude and flexibility to make it through. I am in your corner, pulling for you.
Mark Roberti is the founder and editor of RFID Journal.