What is the secret sauce to Jeff Bezos’ success?
Whether you love or hate him, there’s no denying that Jeff Bezos is one of the most successful entrepreneurs of our generation. Bezos, the founder of Amazon, has built a business empire encompassing everything from ecommerce and cloud computing to artificial intelligence (AI). What can we learn from Bezos, one of the world’s wealthiest men with a net worth of US$151 billion? Here are six key lessons that all entrepreneurs can learn from the billionaire:
1. Follow your passion
“Having a passion is a gift. I think we all have varied passions, and you don’t get to choose them; they pick you,” said Bezos. Bezos has always been passionate about technology. Seeing the potential of the internet, he quit his job at the investment firm D. E. Shaw & Co. as a senior vice president to found Amazon in 1994. His enthusiasm pushed him to turn Amazon into the juggernaut it is today—a tech giant with a valuation of US$1.21 trillion.
What’s more, Bezos’s long-held interest in space exploration has become a reality through his space exploration company, Blue Origin. In July 2021, he made history by becoming the second person ever allowed into Earth orbit—what an incredible feat!
Passion is essential for any entrepreneur who wants to achieve success; without it, you will not have the drive or determination to see your business through the tough times. If you’re not passionate about your business idea, it might be time to rethink your plans.
2. Take risks
“Our whole history as a company is about taking risks; many of which have failed and many of which will fail, but we’ll continue to take big risks,” said Bezos in his final shareholder meeting as CEO of Amazon in May 2021.
Bezos has always been willing to take risks, which has paid off handsomely if you consider the massive success of Amazon. From quitting his high-paying job to launching Amazon in 1994, Bezos’ decisions were risky. He put everything he had into the new company, including his savings, home and stock options from his previous job.
However, Jeff Bezos did not stop taking risks after Amazon became successful; he continued to take risks to keep Amazon as the market leader. For example, Amazon’s e-reader, Kindle, was a high-risk that turned out in favor of Jeff Bezos and Amazon. Kindle was not the first e-reader on the market, but it quickly became the best-selling e-reader due to its innovative features and low price point.
In 2015, he bought an Israeli microelectronics startup called Annapurna Labs for US$350 million for its AWS division. It was a bold move, but once again it worked out: AWS is now one of the most successful businesses in the world. Bezos has also taken risks with new ventures, like Blue Origin and The Washington Post, which he bought in 2013 for US$250 million.
One of the latest explorations that Amazon has tapped into is the drone delivery service Amazon Prime Air, which was officially available in areas of California and Texas in July this year. Although we are yet to see whether the project will impress the market and tackle the cost issue, it is still remarkable to see Amazon keep taking things up a notch!
Taking risks is essential for entrepreneurs because it is how they find new growth opportunities. Without taking risks, businesses would never advance or innovate.
3. Innovate continuously
“If you decide that you’re going to do only the things you know are going to work, you’re going to leave a lot of opportunity on the table,” said Bezos, who has always focused on innovation to stay ahead of the competition. Amazon was initially founded as an online bookstore, but Bezos quickly expanded it into other areas, like online grocery platforms, customer reviews, product recommendations and more.
In recent years, Amazon has been a leading explorer in AI (AI) and cloud computing with its Alexa platform (Amazon-owned virtual assistant technology) and Amazon Web Services (AWS). For instance, since 2018, Formula 1 racing has partnered with Amazon and incorporated the deep-learning models from Amazon SageMaker and AWS to analyze race performance data and enhance the viewer experience.
With continuous innovation, Bezos has ensured that Amazon remains at the forefront of the tech industry. If you want your business to succeed, you must constantly look for ways to improve and innovate your product or service offering.
4. Hire smart people
One of Bezos’ mottos is “Hire people who are smarter than you.” The Amazon founder is always on the lookout for “mavericks” or people who are “a little bit radical or a bit of a rebel”. Although they might be “a little bit annoying” and “not the easiest people to get along with”, Bezos believes they are the ones who can come up with new and innovative ideas.
That belief has helped him build a strong team that brings forth the success of Amazon. This team included seasoned executives, like Jeff Wilke, who headed up Amazon’s worldwide consumer business, and Andy Jassy, who led AWS before stepping up as the CEO of Amazon in 2021.
So, if you’re an entrepreneur looking to build a successful business, don’t be afraid to hire people who are smarter than you—even if that annoys you. They might be the key to your success!
5. Be patient and far-sighted
Bezos didn’t become a billionaire overnight. It took him years of hard work and dedication to get where he is today. Bezos is a long-term thinker who makes decisions based on what he thinks will benefit Amazon three years later. This strategy helped him weather tough times for Amazon, like when the dotcom bubble burst in 2000 or AWS experienced an outage in 2011.
By being patient and thinking long-term, Bezos has made decisions that drive Amazon to be one of the most valuable companies in the world today. Patience is a virtue that all entrepreneurs must have if they want to be successful. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither can most businesses be successful and profitable immediately.
6. Customers are the key to success
“If there’s one reason we have done better than our peers in the internet space over the last six years, it is because we have focused like a laser on customer experience,” said Bezos back in 2000.
He has always been laser-focused on delivering an exceptional customer experience. He was one of the first ecommerce CEOs to realize that the key to success was not just selling products but also creating a seamless and enjoyable shopping experience for customers. This customer-centric approach has been a cornerstone of Amazon’s success, helping it become one of the most trusted brands in the world.
Whether you’re just starting out on your entrepreneurial journey or are well on your way to becoming a billionaire yourself, take note of these six lessons from Bezos. Apply them to your own entrepreneurial journey and see how far you can go. Maybe with a little bit of elbow grease, you can make your business dreams come true too!
So, do you have what it takes to be the next Jeff Bezos?
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