Coronavirus and the Looming Recession

March 11, 2020

Coronavirus and the Looming Recession

I never thought I would talk about a virus on my podcast, recession maybe, but not a virus.
But here we are.
At the time of the recording of this episode there are 65 confirmed cases of the Coronavirus in Iceland and 500 people in self-isolation, a country with a population of only 350.000 people. And this is just the beginning.

How Coronavirus Spreads

Coronavirus spreads three times faster than the flu. A typical flu spreads from one person to 1.3 people. The Coronavirus spreads from one person to 2 to 4 people.
Out of the 65 cases in Iceland, 52 got the virus on a ski trip in the Alps, most of them in Northern Italy. Italy got the virus originally from a person traveling in from Wuhan, China to Milan, Italy. The Italian authorities were not prepared and let this person wait 36 hours for a diagnosis in the emergency room after he got sick, and it took another 4 hours after he got diagnosed until he was put into quarantine. By then it was too late. The virus had spread in Italy and now the whole country is in lockdown, 60 million people. 
Out of the 65 cases in Iceland, 13 got the virus from the people who had been skiing abroad. Infection occurs either through droplets when someone who is infected coughs or by touching a surface that has droplets. Last week a taxi driver drove 4 people from the airport  to Reykjavik and got infected, even though the people didn’t show any symptoms of sickness. Another person who got sick didn’t interact personally with anyone who was on the ski trip, but visited a home where such a person lived.

Slowing Down the Virus

Currently Iceland is number 2 in the world with 19.5 infected per 100.000 inhabitants whereas Italy has 15 infected per 100.000 inhabitants. The difference is that no one has died in Iceland and Italy has already had 483 deaths. In the US 0.19 per 100.000 are reported to be affected and there were 43 deaths. This can only mean that both Italy and US are underreporting their cases or they have no idea how many sick people there really are in their country.
The Icelandic authorities have warned us that it is going to get a lot worse before it gets better. Their key focus is to slow the spread of the virus. They know they cannot stop it completely but they need to slow it down in order to be able to take care of the sick people and prevent the sickest ones from getting it and dying.
In the end 30-70% of the population may get the Coronavirus but it is important that our healthcare system doesn’t collapse and that is why it is paramount to slow down the spread of the virus. I have a very personal reason for wanting to slow down the spread of the virus and that is to protect my parents from getting sick. My dad has cancer and he is over 70 years old. All the data shows that people over 70 with underlying diseases are at the greatest risk of dying from the Coronavirus. I also have an underlying disease myself with severe asthma and knowing that the Coronavirus attacks the lungs makes me worried. Also my husband has a history of pneumonia and I want to make sure he doesn’t get sick either.
In order to slow down the spread of the virus we need to listen to the health authorities;
Wash your hands, use hand sanitizer if you cannot wash your hands, don’t touch your face, keep one meter distance to other people, no handshakes or hugging, and if you start to feel sick then you self-isolate and call  the health authorities to figure out if you’ve got the normal flu or the Coronavirus. In most European countries you can test yourself easily and for free. In Iceland a private company is going to screen everyone who wants to be tested for free next week. That way people will easily know if they need to self-isolate or not.
Together we can make sure that the health care system doesn’t collapse, because the worst case scenario would be if we cannot take care of the sick people that really need help. I don’t want anyone to die just because someone else didn’t self-isolate or wash their hands.

Postponed Conferences

Slowing down the spread of the virus has an economical consequence, too: A looming recession, even though nobody wants to use that word.
The first industries to be hit are airlines, hotels, restaurants and any kind of event companies. I read about a catering company that lost six clients in one day. One cancellation came 6 hours before the event and all the food and staff was ready. That is a shock for the catering company and everyone else who is connected to that company. 
This is before the Icelandic authorities put a ban on events – which is going to happen as soon as we have the first death case. Then Iceland is likely to ban events above 1000 people just like Switzerland and France have done. And they might even ban events all the way down to 15 people. Most companies and organizations in Iceland have already cancelled all larger events for March and April.
SouthbySouthWest was cancelled and today for the first time ever Tony Robbins has cancelled a 12.000 people UPW event. At the same time many conferences and events in the UK and US are not being cancelled. To be honest, I find that very irresponsible. The virus is spreading like wildfire and holding an event in the next few months is nothing but selfish. 

Update on the Selfmade Summit

That brings me to my event, the Selfmade Summit. It is with utmost regret that I’ve decided to postpone the Selfmade Summit to June 2021. In the best case scenario the Coronavirus will be gone in the spring, in the worst case scenario it will go on until the end of the year. In the currently most likely scenario, we’ll have to deal with the Coronavirus until the end of summer and that includes June. Therefore I have no other choice but to postpone my conference.
Making a decision like this is not easy but as a leader and CEO of your business it is always better to be proactive than reactive. Proactive means that you look at the options and take a decision, you have no guarantee that your decision is right at the time you take it but it is better to take a decision than no decision.
Before I started my own business I was a successful turnaround CEO and in a turnaround you have no time to think endlessly about all options. You look at all the options that you see at that point in time and then you take a decision. Big decisions are hard to take, you may have a sleepless night or two, you may discuss with many people or like me, read a lot of scientific articles on the Coronavirus. But then you take a decision and you stick to it.
I am glad to have taken a decision now, about 100 days before the planned conference. The safety of my attendees, speakers and team is of utmost importance and I will never ever risk the health of anyone for my financial gain.
Ticket holders have received an email by the time this episode is released and together we will be looking forward to an epic conference in 2021 – without Coronavirus.

New Opportunities in Times of Crisis

Coming back to the looming recession, besides event companies we will see vulnerabilities in the supply chain where companies that rely on goods from China will not be able to deliver set goods. Oil prices have already dropped, although that was only indirectly related to the Coronavirus. Next is less export and import which means some goods will just not be available and others will have less demand. Finally we’ll see issues with consumer electronics and other technology equipment where parts will not be in stock due to a halt of production in China.
This is starting to sound like a very depressing episode but here is the good news: There is always an opportunity in a downturn. Actually it’s the best time to start a business. It’s a time when the most creative startups get founded. It’s a time when people reassess what they want to do in their life and make better choices that then make them happier. It’s a time where many go back to school or do continuous education.
Just take a look at all the opportunities that are available right now. Imagine you’re in the hand sanitizer business… you are suddenly a gazillionaire overnight! Or if you make toilet paper or any kind of foods that can hold for 2 weeks or longer. I heard of one company in Iceland that makes data loggers for animals and is having the biggest business in their entire history. The vaccine companies need those data loggers to develop a vaccine for the Coronavirus.

High Season for Online Businesses

Since you’re listening to this episode and my podcast you are probably not in the manufacturing business and you are more likely to have or want to have an online business. This is a high season for online businesses and consultants that help employees to work from home or train virtual teams on how to be more productive. 
Employees around the world are now asked to work from home and many of them don’t know how. Companies who have never done this before will be asking for guidance on how to make this work, especially when it goes beyond a week or two which it very likely will. 
What will happen is that some of these employees will not want to go back to the office but instead want to start their own business – and work from home. That’s exactly how I started my own business. I was working for a company where I could work from home and I realised that I never wanted to work in an office again. So I started my own business.
[tweetshareinline tweet=”“A recession is a time of opportunity if you choose to see it that way. It gives you a chance to be proactive; the key is to make a decision before it’s too late.” – Sigrun” username=”sigruncom”]
I was able to find opportunities in 2002 when we had the dot com crash and I was also able to find opportunities in 2009 right after the financial crash. 

Is Your Company Affected? 

The Coronavirus is a bad thing but what is happening as a result of the Coronavirus is not necessarily bad. A recession gives you a chance to be proactive before your company needs a turnaround. 
If your company is already losing money or is hit badly by the recession then I would love to chat. I was a turnaround CEO for many years before I started my own business and I love to help business owners turn around their businesses. Send me an email and I will see if I can help you.
There is always an opportunity in any crisis. The key is to take a decision before it is too late. And that’s what I’ve done with the Selfmade Summit. I’m looking forward to seeing you in Reykjavik in June 2021.

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