Jeff Bezos, CEO and founder of Amazon.com, has been all over the news this past month for buying The Washington Post for $250 million. This really got me curious to see what Jeff was all about as an entrepreneur and leader. While searching through the web I came across a “Jeff Bezos: Boy Billionaire” biography on biography.com, which does a great job explaining his story in forty-one minutes.
After watching I picked up these four key points that have contributed to Amazon’s success:
1. Your relationships can “pay out” in the end
In 1994 Bezos found out the Internet was growing at a rate 2,300% a year, which is nuts! Jeff commented, “That was the wake up call … pretty soon this ‘thing’ was going to be everywhere.” He had the idea of selling products online when people were just using it for data collection and emailing.
He decided to start by selling books online because they’re easy to ship and have almost endless options available. He hadn’t even named his company when he approached his parents and got an investment of $300,000 from them. Bezos mother explained, “The investment wasn’t in Amazon—it was in Jeff.”
It doesn’t matter whether you get your money from family, friends, venture capitalists, angel investors, or even the bank—You, as a person, have a lot to do with whether or not someone trusts your with their money. If you are trustworthy, a hard worker, and know your stuff, it’s going to be easier to obtain the financing you need to start or keep your business running.
2. Keep It Simple Stupid
The acronym K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid) is applicable to nearly every business, product and/or service. Bezos understood that Amazon needed to be user friendly. Simple was the #1 priority when first creating Amazon. Over the years, Amazon’s website and the products it sells have evolved to better the customer experience.
3. Let your business continually evolve
Amazon started by just selling books and it wasn’t soon that Barnes & Noble realized it needed to step into the online retail business as well. Instead of trying to take Barnes & Noble head on, Amazon began selling other products instead of just books. Charles Darwin put it best when he said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”
Amazon became popular so quick that the business world speculated that it wasn’t going to last when competitors stepped in. Bezos even remembers reading, “…the honeymoon is over … they’re ‘Amazon.toast.’” Obviously whoever wrote this, was wrong.
4. Focus on the customer at all costs
Bezos believes that focusing on customer service instead of sales is how Amazon stays successful. Its mission is: Build earth’s most customer centric company. Any employee who doesn’t buy into the mission at Amazon is shown the door.
Bezos knows customer loyalty is the main reason why Amazon is so successful. Being an e-commerce website means that competitors are just a click away. Even though this business model has worked so far, some investors aren’t happy to know that Bezos is happy to risk profit in order to keep customers loyal.
Bezos may have started Amazon.com during the .com boom in the early nineties but it hasn’t got to where it is because it was one of the first in the market. Amazon’s success can be mainly contributed to its simplicity, its focus on customer service and experience, and its ability to change to the markets demand. Because of all of this I will be excited to see what Bezos does with The Washington Post.