“I knew that if I failed I wouldn’t regret that, but I knew the one thing I might regret is not trying.” — Jeff Bezos
You know Jeff Bezos, right? Well, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know he’s the founder of Amazon.com, a wildly successful company that has seen tremendous growth over the years. It went from a simple online book store serving a few customers, to the everything store, serving hundreds of millions of customers worldwide.
However, going back to its earlier days, you can discover a lot about what Bezos believes to be the most important secrets to success. He attributes these secrets to the success of Amazon over the years. And without adhering to these, the company wouldn’t be where it’s at today.
In fact, these four secrets come directly from Bezos himself. While he’s given keynote speeches and interviews throughout the years, these four come straight after the acquisition of Zappos.com. You can actually watch the video below.
Most people are lost when it comes to finding their way in business. The truth is that it’s hard. You have to be laser-focused and driven beyond measure. But the difference between those who succeed and those who fail comes down to a very few number of factors.
Sure, there are good habits you need to have. That much is certain. You need to manager your time, have discipline, and eliminate the bad habits that get in your way. You also have to be able to ignore the opinions of others as you pursue your dreams.
But that’s not what it truly takes to succeed in business. According to Bezos, there are four very distinct factors that are the difference-makers. If you can focus on these, your business will thrive. If you fail to address these, your business will likely become another casualty of competition.
When Bezos first left his cushy job in finance, he had a vision of an online store. He chose books because it was the most ubiquitous product he could offer the widest range on. Since books were so deeply entrenched in society, he chose that as the fastest path.
With astounding internet growth at the time, Bezos knew that he had a small window of opportunity to create a big business. When they started, they programmed a bell to ring every time there was an order. Usually it was a family member. But the first time they received an order from a stranger, it really was the beginning of something incredible.
Within the first 30 days, they bell was ringing so often, they had to turn it off. Clearly, Amazon has only grown from there. Today, it is a colossal multi-trillion dollar company entrenched in the daily lives of hundreds of millions of people who rely on it every day.
So how did Amazon grow so big? Well, there are 4 secrets to success, according to Bezos himself.
Many people in business forget this very simple fact. This goes beyond the credo that the customer is always right. You must have an utter obsession over your customers if you want to succeed. So how do you actually go about doing this?
According to Bezos, everything they do is about the customers and what will benefit the customers the most. Unfortunately, this will not always pay dividends in the outset. When you obsess over your customers you’re expending energy and resources to make them happy.
You do this not only because it’s more expensive to find new customers than to sell to existing ones. You do it because it’s the right thing to do according to. That’s not just an opinion held by Bezos—that’s something the world’s best companies adhere to.
This means that any decision made has to be made with the best intentions for the customers.
Bezos says that you shouldn’t wait for the customer to tell you how to solve a problem. Instead, you need to invent to solve their problems. And it needs to be done without the customer prompting you about it. Invention is key to creating a sustainable customer-centric business.
This does not have to be something groundbreaking. It merely means that you need to solve problems in an inventive way. How do you wrap your mind around this? For example, Amazon has faced numerous problems with duplicates orders, deliveries to wrong addresses, and so on.
In fact, early on, Bezos says that customers were ordering negative items and they were getting paid as credits to their cards for those orders. Thankfully, this was solved quickly. But the point is tat you have to identify problems and invent when they exist.
For duplicate orders, Amazon started putting a label on items that were already ordered to help customers to avoid placing a duplicate order. They’ve also beefed up logistics and added photos of deliveries to help with things like fraud and wrong address deliveries.
In business, it’s easy to see why most people think short term. After all, most businesses are in survival mode. However, one major secret to success for Amazon has been to think much longer-term than that. Bezos always thinks 5 to 7 years down the road.
He states that some initiatives don’t turn a profit for the company right away. However, they do add value to the customer right away. But in general, most of the investments the company makes do not bear fruit for quite some time.
Think about that for a moment the next time you decide to launch an initiative, create a product or do anything else worthwhile. When you think long-term, it also removes you from being competitor focused and becoming more customer-centric.
Clearly, Bezos does everything in the spirit of the customer because they obsess over the customer.
When Bezos says it’s always day one, it means that they are hyper-flexible with the details but stubborn on their vision. They’re not afraid to try new things, even when something is working out okay, in the spirit of making it work even better.
This again comes off the heels of being hyper-focused on the customer. When you take this approach, you’re always willing to experiment in the hopes that you’ll improve the customer’s experience. That’s why it is (and always will be) day one at Amazon.
When you think about this concept, it means that you don’t take an old stodgy approach to business. Most businesses are rigid in their approach and do not promote thinking outside of the box. But not at Amazon because it’s always Day One.
If something will help solve a problem for the customer, or if it will help another initiative along, it is fast-tracked.
There’s a lot of so-called advice out there touting the secrets to success of the world’s richest people. But the question is how do you actually use this advice in business? Whether you’re a student, an employee, an entrepreneur or a service provider, pay attention to this advice.
The problem is that most of us spend so much time trying to survive, that we don’t design our lives and businesses in a way that helps us thrive. This comes back to the fundamentals of who we are and how we spend our time. It’s about discipline, goal setting, and understanding why we’re doing something.
The first takeaway here is that whatever you’re doing, it should be in the best interest of your customer. Even if you’re just an employee and don’t own your own business, if you work for someone else, do whatever you can for the customer.
If your employer does not agree with you, then you should probably get another job. Because, any employer who doesn’t value going all out for their customers, is probably an employer you don’t want to work for. If you have any interaction at all with customers, go all out.
Sometimes, this means losing money in the short term. Not everything should be about turning a profit today, especially when you hold the notion to think long term. When you’re thinking on 5 to 7-year timelines, it makes what you do today far different.
Sometimes, when you feel overwhelmed, it’s novel to think in a different way. This requires that you step outside of your comfort zone and think in a different way. In terms of Bezos, this would require asking yourself the question—what would Jeff do here?
In other words, “Be Like Jeff” and there will be no question as to where you’re going. If you go back into the early days of Amazon, you can find interviews where Bezos was asked why he had a front door as desk. His answer was that he wanted to invest every dollar the company had into the helping the customer, and not into frills.
Of course, Amazon no longer has to worry about those things, but they are still incredibly frugal. They’re still wary of every cent spent and are still hyper-focused on investments that will bring long-term returns. However, they can play on a much larger level these days.
There’s no doubt that Bezos is an incredibly disciplined individual. If you lack discipline, that’s certainly one place to start on the road to success. Discipline requires interweaving so many parts of your life like goals, habits and time management. But without it, success is not possible.
But in business and in life, when you need to make a big decision, ask yourself this question—would Jeff do this? I know it sounds simple and common. But knowing what you know about the founder of Amazon, the answer to this question could certainly lead you in the right direction.
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