“We’ve had three big ideas at Amazon that we’ve stuck with for 18 years, and they’re the reason we’re successful: Put the customer first. Invent. And be patient.” – Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO, Amazon.com
Amazon.com, one of the world’s most recognized e-commerce sites and one of the most successful startups to come out of the United States, was founded in 1994 by legendary Internet entrepreneur and investor Jeff Bezos. Bezos – who has since also founded Blue Origin, a startup human spaceflight company and recently, acquired the storied Washington Post – has become a virtual demigod and guru among tech entrepreneurs and is an influential figure in the startup space. Forbes Magazine lists him among the 15 most powerful people in America and he ranks number 12 in the Forbes 400 list. In their profile, they describe him as such:
“It’s difficult to imagine what the profitable side of the Internet would look like without Bezos. The billionaire founder of Amazon.com, which saw $61 billion in sales last year, is a veteran disruptor in the book, online retail and tablet industries, and now has his sights on fashion, video streaming and old media.”
Numerous articles, features, and books have been written on Bezos and his insights and experiences in the field have served as inspiration to many a budding entrepreneur. No surprise: with an estimated $61 billion dollars in revenues for year-ending 2012 and an estimated 97,000 employee headcount for 2013, who can argue with its success?
So, then, for those out there who are in need of some sound business advice and practical guidance in setting-up and running their own startups companies, we have compiled for you some quotables from the man who “invented his way out of failure.”
1. Establish A High Hiring Bar — You’re Creating An Enduring Culture
Bezos relates that he’d rather interview 50 people and not hire anyone than hire the wrong person. Simply put, the importance of each new hire during the early stages of your startup is crucial. Hiring the wrong people from the get-go will inevitably and definitely have a lingering effect on the future course of your company particularly the corporate culture you wish to develop within your organization.
2. Be Flexible yet Stubborn
Bezos shares that they have remained doggedly stubborn as far as the vision of his company is concerned and yet they have stayed flexible with regards to experimentation and in getting things right. Among the examples he put on record is their third-party seller business which took them three attempts before actually finding the right business strategy that produced results. In other words, don’t give up so easily on your experiments and work on getting different solutions to a problem. Get inputs from your team.
3. Obsess On Your Customer’s Experiences Rather Than On Your Competition
For Bezos, customers are likened to invited guests to party, with his company serving as host. Thus, it is imperative that the customer experience is made better in every instance and in all areas. If your corporate culture thrives on selfishness – a self-centered attitude as opposed to one that is giving and customer focused – then you’ll end-up with a team that is busy outdoing each other rather helping each other.
4. Know When To Discard The Rule Book
Sometimes, it pays to disregard the naysayers or skip the advice of certain well-meaning individuals whose comments, if followed, may curtail the future growth of your business. Learn to listen while sifting through the advice given to you. At the same time, learn to be intuitive – and take the plunge.
5. Follow The Two Pizzas Rule
A tenet that Bezos believes in is the so-called “two pizza rule”: keeping groups small and nimble enough to be fed with only two pizzas or up to seven members to a team. When teams grow to become too large, inefficiencies occur thus resulting in wasted time and effort.
6. Know When To Do Away With The Organizational Chart
Forget hierarchies. In most instances, those from the bottom end of the rung can confidently and easily win an argument with his superiors for as long as he or she is backed by fact-based decisions. A free-flow of ideas where inputs from everyone in the organization is recognized can produce a working environment that is conducive for growth and innovation.
7. Take That Leap of Faith!
As mentioned earlier, you gotta learn when to take the plunge and that leap of faith. It’s about getting out of your comfort zone just as Jeff did. From a stable and comfortable career in Wall Street, he made the bold move to an area that, at that time, he knew little about. Publishing, logistics, inventory, and technology were totally alien to him but if he hadn’t taken that next big step in his life, Amazon.com would never have come about.
About The Author
Rabie Fabies is one of the founders of the new social network site for entrepreneurs, Associare.com. You can find investors for your business in this new site.