These tips are from none other than someone who runs one of the biggest internet companies in the world. Yes you may have guessed…it is Jeff Bezos from Amazon.com. Do you remember when they started out as just books and that was cool. Now they have expanded to all verticals and are growing across new territory around the world. So what does someone this good at business think is important in terms of advice?
In this informative post on kissmetrics, they list out some of his tips:
-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.”
-Never Stop Experimenting
-Think Long Term
If you can know only one thing about Bezos, it should be that he thinks long term.
Once, when asked about Amazon’s revenue growth, Bezos couldn’t even remember the exact growth percentage, something rare for a CEO. When asked why he didn’t know, he said:
“I’m thinking a few years out. I’ve already forgotten those numbers.”
Amazon retail has been around since 1994. Remember those computers and the very early days of the internet? Bezos knew back then that people would be buying products off of it. He has said that those days were some of his most difficult. He was trying to raise $1 million to get Amazon off the ground. But getting that $1 million was incredibly difficult. He said he talked to 60 people, and 22 people gave him $50K.
Why was it so difficult? People didn’t know what the internet was.
-Tie Experimentation, Willingness to Invent, and Innovation All Together
Out of the 8 on the list this one maybe seems the least intuitive. Fads vs. trends are important to differentiate between. Fads can be capitalized on but are temporary. Trends however can last a long-time. And then there are the things that do not change.
-Base Your Strategy on Things That Won’t Change
Bezos at re: Invent, November 2012:
“I very frequently get the question: ‘what’s going to change in the next 10 years?’ And that is a very interesting question; it’s a very common one. I almost never get the question: ‘what’s not going to change in the next 10 years?’ And I submit to you that that second question is actually the more important of the two – because you can build a business strategy around the things that are stable in time….in our retail business, we know that customers want low prices and I know that’s going to be true 10 years from now. They want fast delivery, they want vast selection. It’s impossible to imagine a future 10 years from now where a customer comes up and says, ‘Jeff I love Amazon, I just wish the prices were a little higher [or] I love Amazon, I just wish you’d deliver a little more slowly.’ Impossible [to imagine that future]. And so the effort we put into those things, spinning those things up, we know the energy we put into it today will still be paying off dividends for our customers 10 years from now. When you have something that you know is true, even over the long-term, you can afford to put a lot of energy into it.
“On AWS [Amazon Web Services], the big ideas are also pretty straightforward. It’s impossible for me to imagine that 10 years from now, somebody’s gonna say, ‘I love AWS, I just wish it were a little less reliable.’ Or ‘I love AWS, I just wish you would raise prices…’ Or ‘I love AWS and I wish you would innovate and improve the APIs at a slightly slower rate.’ None of those things you can imagine.
“And so big ideas in business are often very obvious, but it’s very hard to maintain a firm grasp of the obvious at all times. But if you can do that and continue to spin up those flywheels and put energy into those things as we’re doing with AWS, over time you build a better and better service for your customers on the things that genuinely matter to them.”
What are the things that will remain true for your customers over the next 10 years? Take Bezos’s advice and work on those things every day and it’ll pay off big time. Amazon retail is always working on lowering prices, faster delivery (can you say same day delivery?). And they’re probably adding new products every day.
For Netflix, their focus is on streaming because that’s where the future is. So they work on increased reliability with their streaming, a bigger selection in their streaming, and better content. They know customers want all of that.
For Google, they know their customers will continue to want accurate search results and instant answers.
For Verizon Wireless, they know customers will want more coverage, faster speeds, and more reliability. No one is going to say to a Verizon Wireless employee:
“I wish my phone didn’t get reception here.” Or “I want a slower internet connection with my smartphone.” Or “I wish there were more problems with your network.”
No customer is sincerely going to say that. So every day Verizon puts their energies into improving their services.
What would your customers say to you?
Where are you putting your energy? Is it something that customers will still care about in 10 years? If not, start working on things that will matter 10 years from now. You’ll have Jeff Bezos to thank.
-Obsess About Customers
“Focusing on the customer makes a company more resilient.”
At Amazon, there is a common line of thinking:
“Start with the customer and work backwards.“
Bezos has mentioned many times that you focus on customer needs and then work backwards from there. In his interview with Charlie Rose, he says:
“We’re not competitor obsessed, we’re customer obsessed. We start with the customer and we work backwards.”
-Base Your Strategy on Things That Won’t Change
-Identify and Remove Risk
What do you always hear about entrepreneurs?
They love risk. They thrive on it and it excites them.
According to Bezos, the best entrepreneurs don’t like risk and work to identify it and remove it in the early days of a business. He says:
“Good entrepreneurs don’t like risk; they seek to reduce risk…Starting a company is already risky, and then you systematically eliminate risk step by step in those early days….you kind of need to systematically identify risk and then as the company gets bigger and more robust, you can start taking risks again but in those early days a lot of it is about ‘okay I have a good idea, how do we reduce risk?’”
These are our favorite 8 from this list of 12 Kiss Metrics posted. If you apply these to your existing business or when starting a new business, it should give you a boost. Be patient as he said and implement these steps in your processes. Good luck out there!