10 Business Lessons From Jeff Bezos

Few things we could learn from Time magazine’s Person of the Year in 1999.

Jeff Bezos is just another guy who spent summers at his granddad’s cattle ranch. A talented mathematician, he started in his twenties working on Wall Street. Then one day in the early 1990s, he decided to make a cross-country drive from New York to Seattle and on the way he wrote a business plan for a small company he believed might make a profit. He initially set up the company in his garage. That was what we now know as Amazon. He redefined the way we think about Internet shopping; his company is now holding the infrastructure of what we now know as the World Wide Web; they deliver content, make products, deliver an amazing customer experience, and people love them.

Here are some of the things he said over the past few years that might make you want to think…

  1. We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.
  2. The best customer service is if the customer doesn’t need to call you, doesn’t need to talk to you. It just works.
  3. If there’s one reason we have done better than all of our peers in the Internet space over the last six years, it is because we have focused like a laser on customer experience, and that really does matter, I think, in any business.
  4. 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.”
  5. We are willing to go down a bunch of dark passageways, and occasionally we find something that really works.”
  6. The thing about inventing is you have to be both stubborn and flexible, more or less simultaneously. 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.
  7. It’s very important for entrepreneurs to be realistic. So if you believe on that first day while you’re writing the business plan that there’s a 70 percent chance that the whole thing will fail, then that kind of relieves the pressure of self-doubt.
  8. There are two ways to extend a business. Take inventory of what you are good at and extend out from your skills. Or determine what your customers need and work backwards, even if it requires learning new skills.
  9. There’ll always be serendipity involved in discovery.
  10. Mediocre theoretical physicists make no progress. They spend all their time understanding other people’s progress.

Also, make sure you check out his graduation speech at Princeton University.

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