At age 48, Jeff Bezos is the top CEO in the world, according to Harvard Business Review. Amazon is the largest marketplace on the internet, with revenues of $61 billion in 2012, and he opened the company is his garage.
Described as both happy-go-lucky and an obsessive micro-manager, he recently bought the Washington Post, seeking to further expand his business empire.
Here are some of his guiding philosophies and crucial lessons that any young entrepreneur needs to learn.
Amazon boomed initially, played it safe for a few years, gathering consumer data and built the company on this philosophy, “Base your strategy on things that won’t change.” For Bezos, that meant providing product variety, low prices, accessible inventory and industry-leading customer service.
Emphasis on the Customer
At meetings and conferences, Bezos often sets up an empty chair, and calls attention to it as the “most important person in the room.” The focus is never on outdoing what the competitors are providing, but looking directly at the customer and figuring out how Amazon can make the consumer experience better. Determine what your customers need, and work backwards.
Look at what IS
Just because something did work the best doesn’t mean it currently works the best. Bezos obsesses over data and a variety of customer service and purchase metrics, constantly trying to understand the situation as it currently is, and he caters his company to the changing demands of customers.
Amazon still uses black-and-white printers and cheap desks made of particleboard. No first class flights. “Two Pizza Teams,” Bezos’s famous idea that every project team should be able to be satisfied by two pizzas, and any group that needed more was too large to be efficient.
“If you want to be inventive, you have to be willing to fail.”
Bezos remained in awe of the power and potential of the internet, saying: “This is Day 1 for the Internet. We still have so much to learn.” With that, everything done on the web is innovative, a calculated gamble. As long as the strategy makes sense, it's worth taking the risk.