5 hacks every entrepreneur should learn from Jeff Bezos

Jeff Bezos the fifth richest man in the world (September 2016). Bezos is an entrepreneur, investor, and philanthropist. He is the founder, chairman, and chief executive officer of Amazon.com, which became the world’s largest online shopping retailer.

The company began as an Internet merchant of books and expanded to a wide variety of products and services, most recently video streaming and audio streaming. Amazon.com is currently the world’s largest Internet sales website on the World Wide Web.

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Success is never easy and more importantly it doesn’t happen overnight. You have to keep testing what works for you and after lots of trials and errors you will find your own rhythm.

Learning hacks and tips from successful entrepreneurs can help guide and prepare new entrepreneurs for this exciting venture.

We will embark on this exhilarating journey of what every entrepreneur should learn from the behemoth success that is Amazon.com;

1- Never Regret a Thing:

Starting your own business is a huge risk, but since you decided to be an entrepreneur then you already know that risk is such an integral part of the process.

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You can adapt the Jeff Bezos’ method of “regret minimization framework”; it is basically projecting yourself to when you are 80 years old and look back at your life and decisions, at that mythical time, you will want to minimize the number of regrets you have in your life so you ask yourself two things:

1- If I left my well-paying job/comfort zone and explored this venture and it failed, will I regret it when I am 80?
2- If I were to not explore this possibility and stay the same, will I regret it?

If the answers are No to the first and Yes for the latter. Then dive right ahead.

Shocking fact: Jeff Bezos was the youngest-ever senior vice president at Wall Street investment banker D.E. Shaw & Co. Before he left it to pursue his real passion.

This is what Jeff Bezos did, he asked himself the same above questions and left his job to pursue what he knew deep inside that he wanted to do.

2- Start Small:

You have a million dollar idea that you believe in and sure it will be a success? Well, then take a page from Jeff Bezos book and start small.

Back in 1994, the internet was growing 2,300% a year. He knew that it wasn’t trivial, even when research and analytics were not good back then like it is now.

He knew that the internet business was going to keep growing and expanding to be everywhere later on, so he thought what is the business plan that will make sense in this kind of growth?

He wrote a list of 20 different products that he can sell online, then settled on “books”. he was going to build the first online bookstore ever.

When he first started he knew that investing in the internet will not centralize around only selling books, he knew the potential of e-commerce but he did not dive all in.

Fun fact: he wanted to call the company “Cadabra” as in the famous magical Abracadabra, but when he was talking with his lawyer he told him it sounded like “Cadavra” so later on he chose “Amazon” after the largest river in the world in South America.

He chose books because there are million of books, there are more books than any other product category, brick and mortar bookstores are not as efficient as computers at organizing such vast selections of genres and storing them.

He chose a product and a concept that can only be done on the web.

Try this now: Jeff liked the name “relentless”. Guess where you will be routed if you typed in relentless.com?

3- Patience is Rewarding:

When you start something new, you are very passionate and giving it your all, sacrificing your sleep, time and energy. You are eager to start seeing the outcome, the reward for all your hard work. Investing in your passion is a long-term investment, if you are not willing to wait and be patient, then get out of the game now.

Jeff worked alongside his wife and 3 more employees at his house’s garage for a year before the actual launch of Amazon.com in July 1995.

In this first year, Jeff and his team learned how to sell books, and how to source books and they started setting up a computer system that would make Amazon.com easy to navigate, creating a user-friendly interface.

Furthermore, coming up with various innovative programs, that helps customers add their own book reviews to the site and a feature that recommends books based on a customer’s previous purchases.

Fun Fact: When Amazon.com was first launched in Jeff’s garage, the server the company used required so much power that Bezos and his wife, couldn’t run a hair dryer or a vacuum without blowing a fuse.

Ugly Truth: There is no way to know and guarantee the success of a project,on the day of Amazon.com launch, one of the software engineers looked at the little space they called company and told Jeff Bezos “Can’t figure out if this is incredibly optimistic or hopelessly pathetic” and there was no way to know beforehand how customers will adopt this new technology.

4- Find your own Tools:

When you first start, you will be considered lucky if you have little resources. That is not the case with everyone, embarking on this venture, you have got to learn to be flexible to adapt and creative enough to create your tools and work-around the challenges.

When Amazon first started; they were in Bezos’ garage with only all in all 5 employees. They were faced with multiple of challenges.

The first challenge is that book distributors required retailers to order ten books at a time, as Amazon.com did not get books except when a customer made an order, so they didn’t have the funding to buy 10 books when they will sell only one, and did not need this amount of inventory.

The interesting work-around is that they found a rare book that is scarcely available about lichen. They would order the one book they actually want and 9 copies of the obscure lichen book.

The second challenge they faced was in the first month, when they were shocked by getting orders from all 50 states and 45 different countries, and realized that they were unprepared from an operational point of view to handle this kind of volume.

What they did was expanding to a 186 m2 basement warehouse, they would work in the morning on business tasks that a start-up requires at this early stage, and then start at the afternoon till wee hours of the morning, packing the orders themselves and driving over to the shipping company to ship the orders, they were packaging the orders on their hands and knees on a concrete floor. Then realizing that something as simple as getting a packing table will help them immensely.

Such a simple realization, however, at that time, it was the most creative idea Jeff Bezos has ever heard. Funnily; jeff’s original idea was getting knee pads, then one of his colleagues suggested getting packing table and jeff thought it was a brilliant idea, which the next day they got a packing table.

The conclusion of this part is, don’t beat yourself too hard if you realized early on that you weren’t as prepared as you thought or when a challenge comes bearing down on you. Just be creative, flexible and enjoy the journey.

Core Value: one of Amazon.com core values is being customer-centric, which Bezos acknowledge that this early stage in their business, is what cemented this idea because it helped them form a culture of customer service in each department, when they weren’t prepared, every person in the company had to work with their hands so close to the customer and making sure the orders went out. Which helped to serve their goal of being earth’s most customer-centric company.

5- Innovate Smartly:

When it is time to expand and start innovating and growing, then do it smartly, by focusing on what your customer need and don’t be afraid to push outside your zone of core competency. Don’t waste all your resources and time on an idea that might not pan out.

Jeff Bezos introduced in 2002 the “Two-pizza Team”, which means that teams should be small enough to be fed with two pizzas.

This team check out the credibility and functionality of a new idea, and then present it, if it pans out then the whole company starts working on it.

Jeff Bezos: founder, chairman, and chief executive officer of Amazon.com
Jeff Bezos: founder, chairman, and chief executive officer of Amazon.com

Amazon other innovative strategy is thinking what would put the company out of business if invented. This is how they came up with the “Kindle”. Kindle was supposed to replace the business of selling paper books and in a way it did. Now, Kindle books are sold more than paper books.

“Fiona” was the original Kindly code-name, which originated from a book called “The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson. However, Jeff settled on the name “Kindle” because it evoked the idea of starting a fire.

The difference between Amazon and other tech companies, is that they prioritize launching early over everything else, they get their pioneering innovation out into the world and build on it, later on.

This tactic can sometimes backfire, but they overcome it with taking their customer’s feedback very seriously, because firstly and foremost they build products for their customers’ needs.

Being focused on your customers, your own company’s growth and not just your competitors is they key to success, when ebay first launched, Amazon.com tried their hands on auction site to compete with it, the idea flopped but Bezos did not regret it, as he loved the idea personally.

Jeff Bezos even purchased a $40,000 skeleton of an Ice Age cave bear and displayed it in the lobby of the company’s headquarters. Next to it was a sign that read “Please Don’t Feed The Bear.” It’s still there today.

Fun fact of work dedication: One early employee worked so tirelessly over 8 months — biking back and forth from work in the very early morning and very late night — that he completely forgot about his car that he’d parked near his apartment.

Jeff Bezos never had time to read his mail, and when he finally did, he found a handful of parking tickets, a notice that his car had been towed, a few warnings from the towing company, and a final message that his car had been sold at an auction.

Success is a hard work, put in the effort, the time and the right mindset and you are set to great heights.

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