Jeff Bezos is the founder and CEO of Amazon, a company that only sold books online when it launched in 1994. Today, Amazon sells virtually any consumer good you can think of, and under Bezos’ leadership, has become the world’s largest online retailer with a valuation fast approaching $1 trillion. The visionary also owns The Washington Post and established Blue Origin, an aerospace manufacturer and spaceflight service. In July, Bezos added to his many achievements when he surpassed Microsoft founder Bill Gates to become the world’s richest person.
Needless to say, Bezos is a wildly successful businessman. And when he shares his thoughts on business, people listen. Over the years, the mogul has given many interviews sharing his experience and offering advice on how entrepreneurs can become more successful in business.
Here’s a compilation of seven of the most powerful business lessons he learned along his journey.
1. There’s no shame in being stubborn and flexible.
It might seem like a conundrum, but it is possible to be both stubborn and flexible. As a matter of fact, being stubborn in the pursuit of your goals (but flexible in how you go about it) has helped the 54-year-old Bezos to succeed. He explained in a Fast Company article that “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. Only hire the right person for the job.
Amazon is infamous for having very high standards when it comes to hiring personnel. Only the people who would fit the company to a T are hired. This is because Amazon’s president believes that to keep your culture of success intact, you have to be very careful about the people you bring in. The same Fast Company article claimed that the Amazon chief once told a colleague that he’d “rather interview 50 people and not hire anyone than hire the wrong person.”
3. Don’t rush growth.
A lot of people want success, and they want it now. However, making a mark in an industry or transforming your startup into a profitable one in under a year is next to impossible. Take it from Bezos. It took him more than six years to turn Amazon into the money-making venture it is now. His slow but steady approach might have delayed his success, but it allowed him to keep product prices low while he funneled revenue back into Amazon. This strategy is even incorporated in the principles Amazon wants from its leaders — “ They think long term and don’t sacrifice long-term value for short-term results.”
4. No one is more important than the customer.
Amazon is known for its customer-first approach. Every innovation the company introduced was aimed towards providing better service to their customers. Bezos had emphasized in his 1998 letter to shareholders the importance of focusing obsessively on their customers. Companies who put their customers first will reap big dividends, especially in this age when word of mouth reviews can quickly spread across all social media platforms.
5. Keep evolving.
If there’s one thing that Bezos is afraid of, it’s to become stagnant. The CEO’s inclination to break barriers by pushing the envelope has led to innovations that have helped Amazon. For instance, the company started out as an online bookstore. It then moved on to develop its own products. Now it has evolved into an empire that sells over 12 million products, not including books, media, wine, and services.
6. Listen to your employees.
After your customers, your employees are the second most crucial people in your business. It’s very important that you listen to them and that you allow them to give suggestions and feedback. It’s how Amazon came up with ideas like the Gold Box and Bottom of the Page Deals. Feedback is particularly crucial to those in management. Company owners and CEOs often end up in a protective bubble, surrounded by people who are either wary about giving them information because they believe the boss doesn’t want to hear about it or who only tell the boss the things they think he or she wants to hear. Bezos said that he had to invent ways to get out of this bubble and get the feedback he needed.
7. Learn from your competitors.
It’s a good idea to keep a close eye on your competitors. In a speech he gave at Lake Forest College, Bezos admitted that Amazon watches its rivals in order to “learn from them, see the things that they were doing for customers and copy those things as much as we can.” After all, if something isn’t broke, why fix it? It’s better to build on something that’s already proven to work and put your own twist to it.
These tips have helped Jeff Bezos reach the pinnacle of success. Which ones resonate with you most? Share your thoughts in the comment section.