Jeff Bezos is one of those few rear people in the world if not the only one ever to go from being ‘Person of the year’ of TIME magazine in 1999 to being asked for ‘proof by analysts that Amazon is not going bankrupt’ in a span of 14 months. While there are many who made a lot of money during the dot-com bubble of the 90s, not a lot of them are still innovating. The PayPal mafia (Elon Musk and co.) and Jeff Bezos are the people who still are.
Today, Amazon is the front runner when it comes to e-commerce business around the globe. When Amazon went online as ‘The everything store’ on July 16, 1995, it only sold books. Today, Amazon has everything being sold on its platform and is venturing into new verticals every passing day. There is a lot an aspiring entrepreneur can learn from people like Jeff Bezos and many who consider him their idol.
Here are some of Jeff Bezos’ quotes that not only outline his success recipe but teach you a thing or two about dealing with failures.
“The balance of power is shifting toward consumers and away from companies… The right way to respond to this if you are a company is to put the vast majority of your energy, attention and dollars into building a great product or service and put a smaller amount into shouting about it, marketing it.” – Jeff Bezos
If you double the number of experiments you do per year you’re going to double your inventiveness. – Jeff Bezos
A company shouldn’t get addicted to being shiny, because shiny doesn’t last. – Jeff Bezos
Life’s too short to hang out with people who aren’t resourceful.
A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You can earn reputation by trying to do hard things well. – Jeff Bezos
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.
If you build a great experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of mouth is very powerful. – Jeff Bezos
You have to be willing to be misunderstood if you’re going to innovate. – Jeff Bezos
We’ve had three big ideas at Amazon that we’ve stuck with for 18 years, and they’re the reason we’re successful: Put the customer first. Invent. And be patient.
Frugality drives innovation, just like other constraints do. One of the only ways to get out of a tight box is to invent your way out. – Jeff Bezos
If you’re competitor-focused, you have to wait until there is a competitor doing something. Being customer-focused allows you to be more pioneering. – Jeff Bezos
The great thing about fact-based decisions is that they overrule the hierarchy.
I realized I’m never going to be a great physicist. That was where I was working when I came across the fact that the web was growing at 2,300 percent a year. – Jeff Bezos
If you never want to be criticized, for goodness’ sake don’t do anything new. – Jeff Bezos
Any business plan won’t survive its first encounter with reality. The reality will always be different. It will never be the plan.
I strongly believe that missionaries make better products. They care more. For a missionary, it’s not just about the business. There has to be a business, and the business has to make sense, but that’s not why you do it. You do it because you have something meaningful that motivates you. – Jeff Bezos
One of the only ways to get out of a tight box is to invent your way out.
The framework I found, which made the decision [to start Amazon in 1994] incredibly easy, was what I called a regret minimization framework. I wanted to project myself forward to age 80 and say, ‘OK, I’m looking back on my life. I want to minimize the number of regrets I have.’ And I knew that when I was 80, I was not going to regret having tried this. I was not going to regret trying to participate in this thing called the Internet that I thought was going to be a really big deal. I knew that if I failed, I wouldn’t regret that. But I knew the one thing I might regret is not ever having tried. I knew that that would haunt me every day.
What we need to do is always lean into the future; when the world changes around you and when it changes against you – what used to be a tail wind is now a head wind – you have to lean into that and figure out what to do because complaining isn’t a strategy. – Jeff Bezos
All businesses need to be young forever. If your customer base ages with you, you’re Woolworth’s. – Jeff Bezos
Invention requires a long-term willingness to be misunderstood. You do something that you genuinely believe in, that you have conviction about, but for a long period of time, well-meaning people may criticize that effort. When you receive criticism from well-meaning people, it pays to ask, ‘Are they right?’ And if they are, you need to adapt what they’re doing. If they’re not right, if you really have conviction that they’re not right, you need to have that long-term willingness to be misunderstood. It’s a key part of invention.
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.
If you’re long-term oriented, customer interests and shareholder interests are aligned.
In the old world, you devoted 30% of your time to building a great service and 70% of your time to shouting about it. In the new world, that inverts.
I very frequently get the question: ‘What’s going to change in the next 10 years?’ And that is a very interesting question; it’s a very common one. I almost never get the question: ‘What’s not going to change in the next 10 years?’ And I submit to you that that second question is actually the more important of the two — because you can build a business strategy around the things that are stable in time. … [I]n our retail business, we know that customers want low prices, and I know that’s going to be true 10 years from now. They want fast delivery; they want vast selection. It’s impossible to imagine a future 10 years from now where a customer comes up and says, ‘Jeff I love Amazon; I just wish the prices were a little higher,’ [or] ‘I love Amazon; I just wish you’d deliver a little more slowly.’ Impossible. And so the effort we put into those things, spinning those things up, we know the energy we put into it today will still be paying off dividends for our customers 10 years from now. When you have something that you know is true, even over the long term, you can afford to put a lot of energy into it.
You want to look at what other companies are doing. It’s very important not to be hermetically sealed. But you don’t want to look at it as if, ‘OK, we’re going to copy that.’ You want to look at it and say, ‘That’s very interesting. What can we be inspired to do as a result of that?’ And then put your own unique twist on it.
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.
I think one thing I find very motivating — and I think this is probably a very common form of motivation or cause of motivation — is… I love people counting on me, and so, you know, today it’s so easy to be motivated, because we have millions of customers counting on us at Amazon.com. We’ve got thousands of investors counting on us. And we’re a team of thousands of employees all counting on each other. That’s fun.
Another thing that I would recommend to people is that they always take a long-term point of view. I think this is something about which there’s a lot of controversy. A lot of people — and I’m just not one of them — believe that you should live for the now. I think what you do is think about the great expanse of time ahead of you and try to make sure that you’re planning for that in a way that’s going to leave you ultimately satisfied. This is the way it works for me. There are a lot of paths to satisfaction and you need to find one that works for you.
There are two kinds of companies, those that work to try to charge more and those that work to charge less. We will be the second.
You can have the best technology, you can have the best business model, but if the storytelling isn’t amazing, it won’t matter. Nobody will watch.
When a company is very tiny it needs a tremendous amount of not only hard work but, as we talked about earlier, luck. As a company gets bigger it starts to become a little more stable. At a certain point in time the company has a much bigger influence over its future outcome and it needs a lot less luck and instead it needs the hard work. At that point there’s a little bit more pressure, because if you fail you have nobody to blame but yourself.
Your margin is my opportunity.
BONUS – Jeff Bezos sharing the Amazing Amazon Story