Jeff Bezos has just announced he’s stepping down as Amazon’s CEO. Whatever happens to Amazon from here, and whatever your opinion of its founder, Jeff Bezos will go down as one of the best businessmen of all time. His achievements at Amazon have been simply remarkable.
What can we learn from Jeff Bezos and his approach to business? A great place to start is Brad Stone’s excellent book on the e-commerce giant – The Everything Store. Below I summarise my key learnings from this book.
1) Bezos was extremely difficult to work for – like most successful entrepreneurs he set incredibly high standards.
2) Bezos was a bold and ruthless risk-taker. His approach is the antithesis of the traditional corporate way of operating.
3) Bezos enforced strict frugality in daily operations. Frugality is a crucial and often under-estimated source of competitive advantage for many of the best businesses. Less waste means more savings can be passed on to the customer.
4) What distinguished Amazon from other companies? Genuinely customer-centric, long-term and hugely innovative. Some companies have one of these, a few have two; it’s exceedingly rare to have all three.
5) Bezos hired the brightest and best people he could find and gave them autonomy. He avoided hiring people concerned with job titles, status and money. He was also ruthless in replacing early Amazon employees with more experienced personnel who could take it to the next level.
6) His work ethic was relentless and this infiltrated the whole business. Bezos didn’t believe in work-life balance, regularly holding meetings at weekends.