Jeff Bezos started ‘the everything store’ Amazon
The year 2020 might have been very confusing overall, but there appears to be one aspect that people are unanimous on. That’s Jeff Bezos’s success.
What started as an online bookstore turned into an empire ‒ Amazon as we know it today ‒ ‘the everything store’, where there’s almost nothing you can’t buy from the website nowadays. It’s therefore only natural to ask how the company came such a long way to becoming the place that provides everything.
Amazon’s CEO has created one of the most powerful companies of all time and it’s consequently brought him (and his business) incredible success. Like many other ventures, the way they make regular people (like us) show interest in their growth is by being relatable. We’ve all experienced hardships and hope to start from the bottom and work our way up to great wealth. That’s exactly what Jeff Bezos did with Amazon. This is partly the reason why many are fascinated with the expansion of the website ‒ because it’s indeed amazing to imagine that such a gigantic company started as an online seller for books.
‘We can sell anything’
Back in 1994, Jeff Bezos set up the bookselling company in a small garage and the desks for the employees were made out of doors from Home Depot (FYI, Bezos still uses a desk made out of a door according to a company spokesperson; perhaps as a sign of frugality).
Three years into exclusively selling books, in 1997 Amazon started selling music and videos too. Bezos was curious about how he could expand his initial vision with the help of the internet.
“…And then I got smart. I emailed 1,000 randomly selected customers and asked them, ‘Besides the things we sell today, what would you like to see us sell?” explained the CEO in a 2018 interview at the Economic Club of Washington. The response to the email was interesting too. “That answer came back incredibly long-tailed. The way people answered the question was with whatever they were looking for at that moment.” During the talk, the billionaire also mentioned a story about one of the people writing back: “So like, I remember one of the answers was: ‘I wish you sold windshield wiper blades because I really need windshield wiper blades.’ I thought to myself ‘We can sell anything this way,” continued Bezos sharing: “So then we launched electronics and toys and many other categories over time.”
Focus on the customers and provide what they want
After this expansion Amazon continued growing. By the early 2000s, it not only offered books, video, music, and electronics, but you could also find apparel, kitchenware, and even magazine subscriptions on the website.
Back in 1999, Bezos wrote a letter to the shareholders, sharing with them how he wants to realize his vision and use Amazon’s platform to build “…earth’s most customer-centric company, a place where customers can come to find and discover anything and everything they might want to buy online.” In the letter, he also included: “We’ll listen to customers, invent on their behalf, and personalize the store for each of them, all while working hard to continue to earn their trust. Each new product and service we offer makes us more relevant to a wider group of customers and can increase the frequency with which they visit our store.”
Learn from Jeff Bezos
According to Forbes, the Amazon CEO is worth an estimated $188 billion today. His fortune speaks for itself and the only thing new entrepreneurs can do is listen and learn. It is safe to say that attempting to adapt his work ethics and business-oriented way of thinking can’t harm any business owner. After all, there’s a reason why few businesses achieve such undeniable progress.
1.The simplest idea might be the best one ‒ so try it!
It’s evident why most entrepreneurs might believe that ideas worth testing must be complex or appear crazy to any average person. But what if that’s not true? Jeff Bezos proved that simple ideas do work best (i.e., a store that virtually sells everything) and have the potential to turn into something bigger.
2.You’re going to fail ‒ accept it and learn from it.
One piece of advice worth remembering from Amazon’s CEO is: “I’ve made billions of dollars of failures. One of my jobs is to encourage people to be bold. It’s incredibly hard. Experiments are, by their very nature, prone to failure. However, those who don’t embrace failure, will eventually get in a desperate position where the only thing they can do is a Hail Mary bet at the very end.”
3.Make sure you enrich your vision by connecting with people outside your usual circle.
One of the things that make people great is the fact that we are all alike (in most ways we’re even the same), but our needs differ immensely. Paying attention to every different individual’s needs (whether you’re an entrepreneur or a team member trying to think up ideas for your company) can aid in achieving smarter and quicker decisions.
Amazon’s CEO has talked a lot of times about how he didn’t look to himself or his employees to come up with an idea of how the company should expand. Instead, what he did is ask the customers directly. That helped Bezos create a business that appealed to almost every person.
4.Move slow and steady.
If it took Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates more than a month to become billionaires with successful businesses, then I’m sure it’s fine if you take your time too. This just proves that no one achieves everything overnight. Amazon is proud to be 26 years old this year. It took 26 years for the company to become Amazon as we know it today and achieve this greatness. The harder part, nevertheless, is to always keep improving. Amazon improves constantly and the CEO tries to experiment and innovate, which is crucial too.
Another one of Bezos’s ventures is ‘Blue Origin’ (his space company) and its motto is “Gradatim Ferociter”. It’s a Latin phrase that means “step-by-step ferociously” as Jeff pointed out back in 2013 in an interview with Four Peaks TV.
He also added: “Basically, you can’t skip steps. You have to put one foot in front of the other. Things take time. There are no shortcuts.”
Bezos also told what may be the best startup investment story ever back in 2016 in San Francisco (at the vanity Fair New Establishment Summit) about the first people who invested in Amazon two decades ago.
It’s no secret that people in 2020 have some controversial opinions about Jeff Bezos, to say the least. Amazon’s CEO has gathered a lot of hate recently, however that doesn’t have anything to do with how successful the billionaire has been. Even if many don’t agree with his worldview, and if grinding is your goal, you can learn a lot from Jeff.