Ten Startup Tips From Amazon Founder, Jeff Bezos
In August 2004, FastCompany published an article titled, Inside The Mind Of Jeff Bezos, written by Alan Deutschman. Although the article is informative, it is the accompanying sidebar that has remained with me over the succeeding years. Under the heading, “The Book On Bezos,” the callout lists ten actionable and impactful nuggets of startup advice, augmented here with relevant quotes from Mr. Bezos.
1. Establish A High Hiring Bar — You're Creating An Enduring Culture
“I'd rather interview 50 people and not hire anyone than hire the wrong person.”
“Cultures aren't so much planned as they evolve from that early set of people.”
The impact of each new hire during your startup’s early days is tremendous. A mis-hire at the outset of your company can irreversibly alter the trajectory of your corporate culture. If you hire sharks, you cannot expect them to act like dolphins.
2. Be Stubborn And Flexible
“We are stubborn on vision. We are flexible on details…. We don’t give up on things easily. Our third-party seller business is an example of that. It took us three tries to get the third-party seller business to work. We didn’t give up.”
“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.”
This advice is easier said than done, as it is difficult to know when you should be flexible with your vision and when you should remain dogmatic to your ideals.
3. Obsess About Customers, Not Colleagues Or Competitors
“We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It's our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.”
“There are multiple ways to be externally focused that are very successful. You can be customer-focused or competitor-focused. Some people are internally focused, and if they reach critical mass, they can tip the whole company.”
If enough people enter your organization with a self-serving mindset, such people will eventually dictate that selfish behavior is the norm and it will become part of the de facto culture.
4. Know When To Throw Away The Organizational Chart
“The great thing about fact-based decisions is that they overrule the hierarchy. The most junior person in the company can win an argument with the most senior person with regard to a fact-based decision. For intuitive decisions, on the other hand, you have to rely on experienced executives who've honed their instincts.”Continued on the next page