10 Success lessons from Jeff Bezos – “Amazon Founder and CEO” for entrepreneurs
Success, whether of a small business or a giant enterprise, has something to do with the kind of leadership it has. This is no different to that of Amazon’s stature, with Jeff Bezos on its helm. Although he had several high-paying jobs after his graduation in 1986, Bezos was struck with the idea of starting his own business, thus, the inception of Amazon.
For Bezos, he geared his energy and focus toward the customers. Perhaps, this is on top of his list, making customers happy. He is pictured as an analytical, quirk and intelligent entrepreneur who was able to build an empire and start other businesses with his management style.
Here are the 10 success lessons from Jeff Bezos – “Amazon Founder and CEO” for entrepreneurs,
1. Be Stubborn and Flexible
According to Bezos, good entrepreneurs must be stubborn and flexible. When referring to Amazon, Bezos says, “We are stubborn on vision. We are flexible on details.”
Sticking to the vision is the first part, and being flexible about the tactics is the second part. Bezos adds, “If you’re not stubborn, you’ll give up on experiments too soon. And if you’re not flexible, you’ll pound your head against the wall and you won’t see a different solution to a problem you’re trying to solve.”
2. Base your strategy on things that won’t change
Selling lipstick, tractor seats, e-book readers and data storage is all part of one big plan with three big constants: offer wider selection, lower prices and fast, reliable delivery.
3. Determine what your customers need, and work backwards
Specs for Amazon’s big new projects such as its Kindle tablets and e-book readers have been defined by customers’ desires rather than engineers’ tastes. If customers don’t want something it’s gone, even if that means breaking apart a once powerful department.
4. Everyone has to be able to work in a call center
Complaints can be devastating in the age of viral tweets and blogs. Bezos asks thousands of Amazon managers, including himself, to attend two days of call center training each year. The payoff: humility and empathy for the customer.
5. Obsess over customers, not competitors
Bezos makes the point that tech companies especially obsess over competitors: They wait and see what rivals introduce, then try to match and one-up it. By listening to customers instead, Amazon built its Amazon Web Services (AWS) business, which was designed to solve the problems with too-expensive in-house application hosting and open-source products that weren’t robust enough to easily support fast-growing or already-large companies. AWS is now a $10 billion business.
6. This is Day 1 for the Internet. We still have so much to learn
Bezos first made that observation in 1997, in his initial letter to Amazon’s shareholders. He hasn’t budged from it. At Amazon’s new headquarters two of the largest buildings are Day 1 North and Day 1 South. In interviews Bezos still talks about the Internet as an uncharted world, imperfectly understood and yielding new surprises all the time.
7. Make employees think like owners
When Bezos wrote this in the first Amazon annual letter, Bezos had 614 employees, up from 158 a year earlier. It has 230,000 now.
One key component of the approach has been to use stock options in hiring. “We will continue to focus on hiring and retaining versatile and talented employees, and continue to weight their compensation to stock options rather than cash,” Bezos wrote in the 1997 letter. “We know our success will be largely affected by our ability to attract and retain a motivated employee base, each of whom must think like, and therefore must actually be, an owner.”
8. Build a culture that’s right for your company
Amazon’s own culture is famously breakneck-paced, and notoriously cost-conscious, as befits a company that has run only a small profit, or a loss, under generally accepted accounting principles for most of its life as a public company.
“We never claim that our approach is the right one — just that it’s ours,” Bezos wrote in the 2015 letter. “Over the last two decades, we’ve collected a large group of like-minded people. Folks who find our approach energising and meaningful.”
9. Present and Discuss Memoranda, not Slide Shows
Bezos says “The traditional kind of corporate meeting is somebody gets up in the front of the room and presents…some kind of slide show. In our view…you get very little information that way, you get bullet points. It’s easy for the presenter but difficult for the audience. And so, instead, what we do is all of our meetings are structured around a 6-page narrative memo. And when you have to write your ideas out in complete sentences and complete paragraphs, it forces a deeper clarity of thinking.”
If you ever get into a flow of writing, you’ll notice something amazing happens. Your brain produces thoughts and ideas faster than your fingers can type them. Creating slide shows doesn’t have that affect. Even if it could, you are forced to limit your thinking to only the main points.
10. “We are willing to be misunderstood for long periods of time”
Many of Amazon’s expansions look like money-losing distractions at first. That sometimes sends the company’s stock price skidding and evokes analysts’ scorn. Bezos shrugs. If the new initiatives make strategic sense to him, a five-to-seven-year financial payoff is okay.