On Saturday, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos posted a letter to Amazon employees on Instagram, detailing part of his company's strategy for the coming months in response to the novel coronavirus.
My colleague Bill Murphy Jr. recently broke down the entire email, along with tons of lessons for business leaders, which I highly recommend you read.
But there was one line that stuck out to me more than all the rest:
My own time and thinking is now wholly focused on COVID-19 and on how Amazon can best play its role.
Take a moment to let that sink in.
Time and again, Bezos has emphasized that Amazon's strategy is a long-term one, much more concerned with continuing to evolve and diversify than with short-term goals and profit, something that investors have not always understood or appreciated. That strategy has helped transform Amazon into one of the most valuable companies on the planet.
But now, Bezos has made clear that he is entirely focused on adapting his business to a disease that no one even knew about a few months ago.
Interestingly, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella recently indicated a similar sentiment. Asked if he was thinking about layoffs or slowing down new investments, Nadella told Axios that's not where he's putting his energy.
Rather, said Nadella, he is focused on what he called "new demand" for services that support the sudden influx of employees who work from home.
By redirecting their focus on the consequences of Covid-19, both Bezos and Nadella are teaching an invaluable lesson to business leaders everywhere:
The time for wishful thinking is over. The sooner you figure out a way to adapt to the effects of the coronavirus, the better the chance your business has to survive.
How your business can survive the coronavirus
As Covid-19 continues to spread, experts are predicting that Americans will need to stay home at least several more weeks. The effects on American businesses could last much longer than that--several months, or even years.
It's true that both Amazon and Microsoft are companies that are better equipped than most to weather the storm of Covid-19. But every business can benefit from a redirection of focus, whether you're a local restaurant or a solopreneur.
It begins by asking yourself the following questions:
- How can I change my business model to fit current circumstances?
- If I sell products, can I deliver?
- How can I improve my company's website and online presence?
- Can I allow my employees to work from home? How can I assist them to do so?
- Have I already invested in virtual meeting/video conference software?
- What preparations can I begin making today?
These aren't easy questions to answer. But it's important to start developing your strategy immediately. Ask your employees to help you brainstorm ideas. And as Bezos and Nadella have, focus as much time and energy as possible to figuring out your role in a post-Covid-19 world, and how you can best fill it.
Because if you haven't already started trying to answer these questions, you're already too late.