Jeff Bezos has just overtaken Warren Buffet as the world’s third-richest man. According to Bloomberg, the Amazon CEO is worth $65.05 billion, beating Buffet by a whopping $32 million and pushing him down to the fourth spot. Bezos’ net worth is now only beaten by Spanish business magnate Amancio Ortega at the second spot and Microsoft founder Bill Gates leading the billionaire index at $90 billion.
How did the founder of a small internet-based business that started in a home garage in Seattle, at a time when everyone was dubious about online businesses, get to be one of the richest men in the world? Bezos’ story is an inspiring one with great business principles and lessons that every entrepreneur should learn from. Below are a few lessons from Jeff Bezos that could help make your business a success.
Don’t Be Afraid to Try
This is probably one of the first and most important lessons you could learn from Bezos. He left his vice president role at a top investment firm, D.E. Shaw & Co., to start a new business in a market that still had a lot of uncertainties. This was a great risk; he was leaving all the financial security and power that came with his job to start a business that he knew very well could fail and leave him with nothing.
“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,” he said in an interview about the A9 research. Leaving the job was a risk, but there was a lot of opportunities in his business idea, and it outweighed the risk.
Bezos came up with what he calls a “regret minimization framework,” where he basically imagines himself at age 80 and the kind of regrets he would have. He says the one regret he knew he was not going to have was trying out his business idea, even if it would have failed. This made it an incredibly easy decision for him to make. He had to go forward with his business.
Bezos’ life was pretty secure by being at the top management spot in his previous company, but he had a vision he believed in. He had thought it over, and he believed it could work even when the situation at the time didn’t look optimal. He risked everything to make his vision a reality, and it worked extremely well for him.
“I knew that if I didn’t try this, I would regret it. And that would be inescapable,” he said in one of his earlier interviews with Time Magazine.
Focus on Customers
According to Jeff Bezos, “The most important single thing is to focus obsessively on the customer. Our goal is to be earth’s most customer-centric company.” This mentality has stuck with the company throughout its existence, and making customers the main priority was the reason for the company’s tremendous success.
Starting a web-based business was a smart move by Bezos, because it made studying and measuring consumer behavior easy. It helped track metrics that contribute to overall customer satisfaction. Amazon continuously evolves to create features that improve the user’s experience, and some of its earliest additions are changing the internet today.
For example, when Amazon added customer book reviews to their website and encouraged their customers to share their opinion, they received backlash from publishers. However, the customers took on the idea of reviews positively. Today reviews have become a vital part of any e-commerce business.
Start Small, Stay Hungry
Amazon started off selling one thing only: books. Starting with too many products or services at once can delay you from establishing a niche and making a name for yourself in the market. Keep a vision of growth, but start with only a few products you can grow from.
Books were Amazon’s proving ground, but Bezos already had his eyes on having an “everything store.” Because he focused on perfecting Amazon as an online bookstore, he learned what worked and what didn’t, and he improved their processes as the business grew. When more products were added, Amazon had already made a name for itself as an online store, and they set a precedent for providing the best service to customers.
The trick is to keep evolving. As Bezos said, “What is dangerous is not to evolve.” If you just stay in one place, you are limiting your company’s opportunities and potential. Find a way to expand into newer markets, whether it’s going international, adding new products or anything else that will help you grow.
Being the world’s third-richest man is by no means something to ignore, but Bezos’ character as a business person and his ability to inspire goes beyond just his pockets. He is a smart businessman who knows how to take a calculated risk. He believes that the risk is worth the reward, as evidenced by leaving a high paying job to start his own business in an uncertain market.
He supports proactivity within his company and even created an award that he calls, “Just Do It,” which recognizes employees who take initiative, regardless if they fail or succeed.
The savvy businessman is a true embodiment of sharp business acumen, ambition, innovation and thinking out of the box, which all have helped him create the online empire that Amazon is today.