“One of the only ways to get out of a tight box is to invent your way out.” – Jeff Bezos
Aspiring business leaders always look up to some role models and they could be from some of the best entrepreneurial names that the contemporary world has produced: Steve Jobs, Elon Musk or Mark Zuckerberg. But there is another individual who also is an icon in his own right, and he is Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon. Whatever times he makes the headlines in the media, the 56-year-old Bezos does it in terms of his economic fortune. But behind the profit-making businessman who is the richest person in the world at the moment with a net worth of 184 billion dollars, there is a man whose life methods are worth imitating. Bezos might not be as charismatic as Jobs nor has earned as big an innovative brand name like Musk, but he is still one who can teach young business minds a lot.
It is always a wise thing to keep a check on the habits that great entrepreneurs follow. Those can serve as inspirations for you to change course to emerge as a better entrepreneur. Those habits are, after all, not just habits but personal practices and cultures that help a person improve the entrepreneur hidden in him/her. These habits can be manifestations in the personal space or those conducts that are more visible professionally. Overall, they all add up to make an individual complete in his proficiency.
Hence, if you, as a business leader, want to learn seven habits from Bezos that will help take your business to the next level, here are they:
Making one’s own rule
It is not something new to know that Amazon rose from an ordinary background. So, as a humble beginner, Bezos didn’t have much of a luxury to start it in a grand way. And that saw him starting with a piece of paper and he has kept the habit alive and even wants innovators in his team today to do the same. Anybody who wants to propose a new idea must first jot down his/her thoughts into a six-page document. Bezos and those others involved will go through it — analyze and dissect. The man hates PowerPoint, literally. Bezos also started his Two-Pizza Team rule. It means no team should be so big that two pieces of pizzas fall short of feeding it. The man feels big groups are not too productive and it is always better to organize the company into autonomous units of 10 or less that compete for resources to make their missions customer friendly.
Thinking about the long term
In his 1997 shareholder letter, Bezos came up with a manifesto called “It’s all about the long term” where he laid out his ways to conduct business and run his company. He said that decisions would be made with a long-term lens and the focus will be on market leadership. The man’s conviction in long-term profits becomes evident when one sees the story of e-books. When they first appeared, most publishers put their price tags as equal to print editions. The farsighted Bezos projected that their long-term price would be around 10 dollars and started selling them at 9.99. Initially, the decision saw losses as one e-book was getting sold for about five dollars. But when the prices eventually fell, the e-commerce giant became the destination for the e-book hunters and subsequently, Bezos also laid down the foundation of another success story — Kindle.
Not being afraid of risks
It is not that Bezos was unemployed when he started his garage-based venture in Bellevue. He had a secure hedge-fund job, but it was the passion in him that moved him to set up his business. He used up all his savings to do it and it clicked. About taking risks and trying, Bezos once famously said: “I knew that if I failed, I wouldn’t regret that, but I knew the one thing I might regret is not trying.” It was seen when Amazon Auctions failed to compete with eBay, but that failure saw the successful 1-Click Purchase. Bezos has initiated a “Just Do It” award to reward employees who tried and succeeded and also those who tried and failed.
Being both stubborn & flexible at same time
Bezos has a unique combination of ideas: he is both stubborn (on vision) and flexible (on details) at the same time. According to Bezos, if you are not stubborn, then you tend to give up on experiments sooner and at the same time, if you are not flexible, you will never succeed in finding a solution to a problem. The balance is not easy to find, Bezos also concedes, as he feels the challenge lies in figuring out “when to be which”. It is natural for a leader to be seen as ‘stubborn’ more readily than being ‘flexible’ but given Bezos’s track record as an entrepreneur, his stubborn-flexible mantra is an advice that people can imbibe.
Taking the flexibility point further, Bezos also speaks in favor of experiments. He has another notable quote on this: “If you double the number of experiments you do per year, you’re going to double your inventiveness.” It is never a bad thing to experiment. Every industry in the world indulges in experimentation to innovate, which in turn adds to the diversity of the product(s) and helps the business(es) grow. Amazon is highly known for its experimentation and willingness to invent and this is one thing that every aspiring business leader can learn from the company and his famous founder.
Collecting as much data but deciding with heart
Bezos seeks to stress on collection of data and immerse oneself in them but at the end of the day, take the decision with your heart. Amazon is known to be a data-driven company but according to Bezos, the company trains its staff members to understand that some decisions must be made with the gut. He once said at an event in New York: “You have to realize decision making isn’t one size fits all.” He also advised that people should ask themselves two questions while making a decision: “What are the consequences of this decision?” and “Is this decision reversible?”
To be afraid of regret
This is a very key concept in the world of success and failure. When Bezos started thinking about building Amazon, he had to make a decision on whether to start the business or continue with his stable job. It was not easy. So, the strategist in him thought out a mechanism called the Regret Minimization Framework under which he understood that he did not want to get into a situation in which he would not do the work but regret later. This fear of regret is something that pushed him to start his business that earned a worldwide fame with time. Do you fear regret as well? Follow Bezos’s prescription.