5 lessons from Jeff Bezos

Jeff Bezos, the CEO and founder of Amazon began as a simple entrepreneur selling books online, and has built that into one of the most successful businesses worldwide that now sells thousands upon thousands of products. He has reshaped the way we think about retail and he hasn’t simply settled for being the best of online retail. He’s rethinking and innovating how we think about service and what a company can do. Amazon offers a public cloud, which sidesteps the costs associated with creating and maintaining web-based businesses. 2014 is the 20th anniversary of the founding of Amazon, and over those 20 years Bezos has left some great advice for entrepreneurs and well established companies.

1. Don’t underestimate the importance of hiring.

Bezos has said he’d “rather interview 50 people and not hire anyone than hire the wrong person.” It’s the kind of advice that’s hard to quantify but it stresses how important your employees are. If you’re looking for people to work with, you want the best. Just as important as their abilities is their ability to work together and with you, and within the culture of the company. When you found a company that becomes successful enough to hire employees, you are defining the company’s culture with every person you hire. Always be aware of that. No fit is better than a bad fit.

2. Persevere but remain open.

Easy to say, difficult to do, but very important. If you have a great idea, push it forward and do what you can to make it work, even if it means rethinking and reshaping the way you thought that idea would work. If you have the right idea but the wrong process to get there, be persistent with the idea, but be open and flexible to new ways of doing things. To put it another way, be flexible with the details and change them as necessary, but keep pushing with the vision. If you believe in your vision, don’t give up just because it doesn’t work the first time. Keep trying till it works.

3. Make it about your customers.

With your product or service, you need to constantly keep the customer in mind, and not just whether or not it’s usable for them, but how it’s usable. The experience of a customer is what determines your success. If a potential customer comes to your website or store or company and doesn’t have a good experience, they’re unlikely to come back. You need to ensure that they’re satisfied not only with the product or service, but also with how they receive that product or service. This comes back to hiring the right people and making sure that they fit your vision. Selfishness has no place in a company when it comes to customer service, so make the customers feel important and make them satisfied.

4. Two Pizzas, One Meeting

This is a standard that Bezos developed early on. What it means is that there should never be a meeting of more people at one time than can comfortably be fed by two pizzas. What this does is keep meetings focused and project oriented. With too many people in the same meeting, organisation may become a nightmare and the details can get lost and confused with the combination of so many personalities. By keeping meetings small, you making sure they remain functional and productive.

5. Keep it simple.

Business is simple. It never sounds like it and the more you read, the more difficult and complex it may seem. But, at its core, business is simply a transaction between two or more parties. This goes back to keeping your customer in mind. If you leave things simple between you and your customer, it encourages them to come back again and again. No one wants to be burdened by complex ideas or problems when coming to you for goods or services, so keep it simple. Make it about them and get it to them in the simplest way. Common sense solutions are almost always the best ones.

Jeff Bezos is not a voice to ignore when starting up, and following his example may take you from an idea to a real and successful business.

Can Akdeniz

Can Akdeniz is the author of seven books and founder of Business Hacker, a popular business blog. His books such as Go Nuts, Cool Boss, Happy Company and MBA 2.0 have changed how people think about business, productivity and work.