Back in February, you didn’t think twice about popping into a sandwich shop for lunch or stopping by the grocery story on the way home. Now I bet you at least pause for a second.

Every day each of us make subliminal calculations about risk based on what we believe to be certain. These gut-level risk calculations drive our actions. During normal times, most of us are so confident in what we know that we barely ponder the possible risks of our daily activities.

COVID-19 has upended that confidence. We’re now confronted with a bevy of unanswered questions about our basic health and safety and uncertainty about the risk of once routine actions.

South Carolina is making methodical progress to reopen more sectors of the economy. Governor McMaster’s recent executive order allowed restaurants to resume limited dine-in service yesterday. This comes a week after restrictions were lifted on most retail.

Reopening is only half of the business recovery equation. We also must address the confidence factor… for both customers and employees. Many of the unknows about COVID-19 are unanswerable by local business leaders. But there are things we can do to remove some unknows and inspire confidence.

Here are three simple steps every business should take:

  1. Develop a Policy – decide how your business will operate regarding cleaning, social distancing, personal protection and face masks, traffic flow inside, etc. There are lots of well-vetted guides for multiple sectors available online. Two good places to start are the Accelerate SC business resources page and the CDC workplace page. For reliable information about the virus itself, Beaufort Memorial Hospital has a great collection of resources.
  • Communicate the Policy – post signs, share on social, update your website. Your operational policy can only help inspire confidence if customers know about it and employees know you are serious about it. Make your commitment public to make it count.
  • Follow the Policy – the hardest step is actually following your new operational policy to the letter. If your policy calls for disinfecting door handles hourly, assign someone to do that and follow up. If your policy says employees will wear face coverings, lead by example all the time.

You can’t remove all the unknowns about COVID-19 for your customers and employees, just as you can’t remove all the risk. But you can build confidence by having, communicating and following a policy to manage risk factors within your control.