Much has been made of the fact that Bill Gates, in a 2015 Ted Talk, predicted that the world would be unprepared for an outbreak of a "virus where people feel well enough while they're infectious that they get on a plane or they go to a market." While he didn't specifically predict the current pandemic, he did warn that the world needed to take urgent steps to increase things like medical facilities, testing capabilities, and research and development.
That part certainly sounds familiar.
Now, however, Gates is more optimistic. While he has criticized the U.S. government's response to the Covid-19 pandemic, he believes that there are as many as six vaccines that could receive approval in the next few months. That would be good news that can't come soon enough considering many states are seeing a resurgence of new cases as the winter months approach and force people indoors.
Last week, in an interview with Savanah Guthrie on NBC's Today Show, Gates even suggested that things could get worse before they get better, but the important point is that they will, in fact, get better.
According to Gates:
"It's a paradoxical situation because things are getting worse right now. And so the next four or five months actually looks pretty grim unless we can really double down on our behavior. But the tools, both treatment tools like antibodies, and some of these amazing vaccines will start to roll out. By the spring, those numbers will be big enough that, that certainly in the United States, it'll start to change numbers dramatically, and we'll be headed headed back to normal."
That's important for two reasons. If you're a business owner or a leader, you should be thinking now about what normal might look like for your business, or at least what business might look like when we get there--whatever that means.
In addition, it's important not to ignore the fact that your business very well could be facing its most challenging period over the next few months. That means making decisions right now to get through it.
With that in mind, if you haven't already created a plan, it's time to think about three things:
Protect Your People
The first priority right now has to be to keep everyone who depends on your business safe. There is so much uncertainty, but what is sure is that it's your responsibility to protect the people who work for you, as well as your customers.
Serve Your Customers
Businesses are being forced to adapt and find creative ways to meet the need of their customers. It might be more of a challenge right now, but that doesn't mean your customers don't need you. One of the more important keys is to recognize that those needs are probably different right now. That means the way you serve them should be as well.
Sustain Your Business
The choices you make right now will determine what happens over the next few months, and even after. This is important because it doesn't benefit your team or your customers if you exhaust all of your resources now, with nothing left for later. The people connected to your business are counting on it to survive beyond the pandemic. Sometimes that means making difficult decisions in the short term, in order to still be around for the long term.
That can seem overwhelming considering how much of your current situation is outside of your control, The goal should be to put yourself in the best position possible based on what you can control right now.