How COVID-19 Felt for Our Small Business

by John Amato

Running a small business is hard even when there isn’t a global pandemic. I started this business with no prior industry experience and only one shirt idea. 

Small businesses become successful by doing a lot of things well - customer service, company culture, human resources, sales, financial planning, and managing growth, to name a few. Sometimes, even when you do a lot of those things really well, success isn’t guaranteed. 

I have lived in a constant state of fear over the last two months that even though we have done a lot of things well, the future for us is uncertain.  

And yes, I know I just used one of those overused cliches about COVID-19. But you know what? All the cliches about the current situation are true. There isn’t a better way to say it and that’s how people feel. That’s why we keep hearing them.

I have felt a lot of anxiety about being in this situation while knowing that my employees look to me for answers and reassurance. The truth is, I haven’t always felt confident I could provide them. 

In the beginning, I didn’t know what to do. One thing we have repeated and reminded ourselves throughout it all is that we’ll be smarter in a week. I’ve said it to myself on a daily basis - I’ll be smarter and better in a week. From the stay at home order to PPP to unemployment to existing quotes and orders, it applied to everything we were doing. While it has been true, there is still a nagging feeling that I don’t have enough information and that circumstances are changing too quickly to feel confident in my decisions. 

Providing a great place to work is something I was proud of and committed to creating. Layoffs are devastating. The only time I’ve cried more in a one week period was when my mother passed. Weeks later, I still feel bad about laying off 70% of my staff. I miss my employees and am conflicted about the ethical implications of my decisions, even though I was quick to hire back those that I could.

My employees’ response to being laid off and to being rehired gives me hope for the future. They comforted me when I had a hard time breaking the bad news and they have all been excited about coming back even if being on unemployment was a better deal for them currently. 

Unprecedented, uncertain, challenging, trying. Yeah, we’ve felt all of this recently. But we’re all in this together and we’ll get through it together.


  • Comment Author: Elaine

    I can relate to so much of this. Running a small hair salon and having to shut the doors and cut off the income to 6 other people. Feeling like I don’t have the exact answers or reassurance has been so difficult. I am so grateful that you created the the here for good campaign. Beyond taking care of your employees, you did a great job taking care of the community!
    One step at a time, learning as we go.

  • Comment Author: LInda Aubry

    You are an empathetic boss, John! Hang in there!🙏❤️

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