Learning from the best
Upcoming entrepreneurs – like me and my teammates – and the more experienced people in business life have one thing in common: we want to succeed. Success, of course, can be measured and comprehended in many ways, but business-minded people are particularly interested in the financial side of it. Whether you’re working for a company or working as the head of the company, certain things need to click in order for it to be successful. So, what exactly are these things – what makes a business successful?
To have any shot at answering this question, a good idea is to look for an example set by other successful entrepreneurs and business moguls. No one entrepreneur has made an impact on the modern way of doing business like Jeff Bezos has with his formidable e-commerce company, Amazon. He has single-handedly changed the way modern businesses operate by altering the general assumptions of economics. In his extensively researched book called “bezonomics” (2020), author Brian Dumaine illustrates how Amazon is changing people’s lives and what the world’s best companies are learning from it.
At Amazon – according to Dumaine – every day is considered as day 1. This means, that the values, practices, and mission remain the same throughout the company’s life cycle. This helps controlling complacency but also keeps the brand reliable and consumer-friendly. Without consumers/customers, there’s no commerce, and Bezos has taken that to heart. The customer always comes first at Amazon, and everything else after that. This was Bezos’ mantra when starting his online book-store business in the 90s. Now over 20 years later, nothing has really changed – only scaled up. Grandly.
Even though at Amazon every day is considered as day 1, this doesn’t mean that progression and growth aren’t a priority. Like everybody knows, you can’t succeed if you don’t push the boundaries or see what’s behind different doors. As an e-commerce giant, Amazon is known for its all-inclusive online market where millions of retailers can sell their products. However, it has also been actively coming up with its own brands of products. Innovation has, in fact, been one of Amazon’s cornerstones. Research & development is very pervasive through the company, which Bezos supports by investing large sums of money, time, and effort into it. This shows that Bezos is not afraid of failures, because he believes that innovating for major breakthroughs is worth it – or even required. Every field of business has its own set of risks that must be considered. It’s whether you treat these risks as unbreachable barriers or as opportunities for growth that helps you take your business to the next level.
One thing helping Amazon to innovate is the relationship managers and their subordinates have. Bezos expects everyone who works for him to show the same level of smarts, initiative, and ingenuity. At the corporation, they have even made it so that underlings can challenge their higher ups in search of the truth. This way innovation isn’t limited by rank or anything else superficial. This also promotes trust between the workers and the leaders, while creating a positive organization. “By trusting their employees, leaders create a virtuous cycle of trust that permeates throughout the organization, enabling behaviors and outcomes that would not exist without such trust.” – Mishra & Mishra, Our Uncorrected Proof – Chapter 34 “Positive Organizational Scholarship and Trust in Leaders (18/04/2011). Trust must be earned, though: any Amazonian who wants to pitch an idea for a product or service must, before writing a single line of code, compose a document no longer than six pages in length. This promotes filtering the ideas that really make an impact for both the corporation and the consumers. Bezos’ mantra of “always starting with the customer” comes into play here, once again.
One very clear thing separating successful and struggling businesses nowadays is the way they utilize technology. It has become increasingly popular to order stuff online instead of going to brick-and-mortar stores to purchase them. It is unsurprising though, considering how simple it is to have everything delivered to your doorsteps with only a click of a mouse – or by using your voice like Amazon has enabled its customers to do with its Alexa Echo. If businesses only rely on the classic face-to-face interaction with their customers, they’re going to struggle. Without implementing any other methods, they simply can’t sustain themselves. “The days when a store could simply open its doors and expect customers to walk in and buy are over.” States Dumaine.
If the Covid-19 pandemic taught us something about business, it’s that Dumaine’s claim holds true. Especially when it comes to retailers. Dumaine further argues that to survive and become successful, retailers of the future will have to focus their efforts in four major areas: creating an amazing in-store experience that digitally merges with an amazing online one; offering a highly curated selection of exclusive products; investing heavily in technology; including mastering social media; and doubling down on a social mission in a way that makes customers feel good about buying from them.
It is not only retailers, however, who must adapt to today’s technological needs. Every other business in other markets and industries have also something to gain from improving in these major areas mentioned above. Creating nice websites, for example, helps with creating a complimentary company image; offering exclusive value propositions separates you from the competition positively; investing in technology can help you reach your company’s goals more efficiently; mastering social media helps with both improving company image but also works as free advertisement too; and having a social mission is vital for attaining loyal customer base.
As noted, there are numerous things to take into consideration. But to even scratch the surface on how to answer the question – what makes a business successful – I’d begin with “let’s look at Amazon…” because they seem to do a lot of things right. They were built from the ground up with great leadership and an ambitious mission: to be the smartest, most consumer-friendly company in the world. They’ve managed to rise through the ranks with the help of innovation and technology, and nowadays they’re one of the world’s biggest corporations. They’re the case study of a successful business. By learning from businesses like it, you too can apply important knowledge and know-how into your own business and maximize your chances of building a successful business.
B. Dumaine, 2020, Bezonomics: How Amazon Is Changing Our Lives And What The World’s Best Companies Are Learning From It. Simon Schuster.