Jeff Bezos and his company, Amazon, have become synonymous with online shopping.
Even if you have never gone onto Amazon to shop (and hit that magical US$125 to enjoy free shipping), chances are you would know people who have.
Amazon appeared at the most opportune of times to attain an iron grip on a new age of shoppers, and is in the process, making its founder a very wealthy man.
Ex-CEO of Microsoft Bill Gates is of course still sitting at the top of the ranks.
And as with any successful entrepreneur, Jeff Bezos has his fair share of advice that he shares during interviews or at conferences. Here are some which may prove useful to any aspiring entrepreneur.
1. You Must Dare To Fail To Innovate
In a session with students at his Bezos Center of Innovation, he told them: “Without a willingness to fail, you cannot innovate because most innovations won’t work.”
Being someone who is often described as a great innovator, Jeff Bezos didn’t get Amazon to where it is today by doing the same things.
After enjoying much success with its e-book reader, the Kindle, Amazon made the decision to dabble with smartphones next. This turned out to be not so smart a move, and their smartphones ended up joining Amazon’s expanding list of spectacular failures.
Even then, Bezos remains undeterred and continues to pour in billions of dollars into projects that can potentially turn out to be failures, and this has helped immensely with Amazon’s creation of products and services that actually work.
“Failure and invention are inseparable twins. To invent you have to experiment, and if you know in advance that it’s going to work, it’s not an experiment.”
2. Rethink And Deconstruct Existing Products And Services
Where most people would simply be comfortable using whatever is around them, Jeff Bezos thinks that that’s exactly where you should start for your next big idea.
Much like how Elon Musk and his team took apart a Mercedes Benz car before creating Tesla, Jeff Bezos shares the same sentiments.
But this isn’t just about taking things apart to know how they are built and what goes into the product, it is also about recognising business opportunities in areas that current products and services fail to fulfil.
With the internet, Jeff Bezos saw an opportunity to take advantage of the 2300% growth of the world wide web by breaking down the very traditional business of goods delivery.
Out came Amazon, which soon become the world’s largest bookstore.
And the rest, as they say, was history.
3. Be Willing To Be Misunderstood
Carrying on the topic of innovation, aside from failure, you have to also be prepared to be misunderstood.
We all know that Jeff Bezos is willing to spend billions to try out new ideas, but his commitment to see it through regardless of the success probability is one quality that not many have.
When he first introduced the Amazon user review system (which included negative feedback), retailers questioned his decision to do so, saying that he didn’t understand the business he had started.
But look at how that turned out.
Today, the Amazon ratings system is one of the most trusted worldwide, and it is a place people look for product reviews on, even if they don’t buy from the site in the end.
4. Think Long Term
It took several years since its founding before Amazon made any real money, but even today, many argue that the company is still not profitable.
But it depends on how you look at it. The company’s revenue will tell you that Amazon is cashing in billions each year, but while some go back into their daily global operations, a substantial amount is channeled into future technologies, and research and development.
For Jeff Bezos, it’s about spending more to grow more.
Even after going public in 1997, here’s what Jeff Bezos detailed in a shareholder letter: “Because of our emphasis on the long term, we may make decisions and weigh trade offs differently than some companies.”
That mantra still holds true some 20 years on, as huge investments are still being made regardless of how much Amazon makes.
5. Have A 2 Pizza Rule
The 2 pizza rule is something that even those in Singapore, like GovTech, practice.
The premise is simple – if 2 pizzas cannot feed a single team, then there are too many people involved.
This rule has its roots since the early days of Amazon, and until today, is still practiced by Jeff Bezos. As a company like Amazon grows exponentially, so do the number of people working in it.
The company’s success may depend on the number of people who work there, but a no-frills teams will still end up useless if they are poorly organised and communication is unnatural and uncomplicated.
Tech Bosses Are Slowly Climbing Up The Rich List
The days of more traditional businessmen are almost at an end, as the ranking of the world’s richest is slowly being populated by the founders of tech companies.
For so long we have seen Microsoft up in the rankings, with Bill Gates still the highest pedestal. Not far behind is Jeff Bezos, and going down the list we see the likes of Mark Zuckerberg.
This is the reality of the world we now live in because as technology progresses, the importance of these companies are also on path to grow even more.