Jeff Bezos: Entrepreneur
Jeff Bezos is most commonly known as the founder and CEO of Amazon.com, and is considered one of the all time great entrepreneurs in the e-commerce arena. This American born, Princeton University graduate, also holds claim to one of the internet’s greatest entrepreneurial success stories. His life, career, and record-breaking achievements truly make him stand out as an example for other entrepreneurs to follow.
Born on January 12, 1964 to a teenage mother in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Jeffery Bezos was a child who showed ambition and mechanical aptitude from a young age. It is said that he would fill his time taking things apart, learning how they worked, and then using this knowledge to put together electrical machines around his house. By the time that he had graduated high school as valedictorian of his class, he had developed an intense love for computers and started his first business. He then went on to study electrical engineering and computer science at Princeton University, where he graduated with honors.
At the start of Bezos’ career, he chose to work on Wall Street, being employed by firms such as Bankers Trust, Fitel, and finally D.E. Shaw. In 1990, he was named the youngest senior vice president of D.E. Shaw Investment firm and had a very promising…and lucrative…corporate position. While many people would have been satisfied to have achieved such a high paying and prominent position, Jeff Bezos saw more in his future than what the corporate world had to offer him. Just four short years later, in 1994, he would make one of the biggest…and perhaps, riskiest…decisions in his life.
Leap Into Entrepreneurship
After developing a business plan for an online bookstore, Bezos quit his well-paid job with D.E. Shaw to pursue his own e-commerce business. His goal was to tap into an internet market that had very little competition and become a leader of online retailing. In order to accomplish this, Bezos made a move to Seattle, set up an office for his startup in his garage, and began developing software with the aid of a few employees.
Soon, he made a huge expansion of his company, moving it into a two bedroom house, and invited about 300 people he knew to participate in the beta testing. While the software was not perfect, the response from the public to the new company, named Amazon.com, was astounding. In just one short month, this tiny company boasted online sales to the entire United States, as well as to over 40 foreign countries. In month two, sales totals would reach $20,000 per week…figures that surprised and outdid what Bezos himself had expected.
In 1997, Bezos and Amazon.com expanded again, by taking the company public. This online bookstore would continue to outsell private retailers offering online buying and rising competitors offering similar sites to be one of the leaders in e-commerce history.
Even with the immense success that Bezos had experienced with Amazon.com, he never stopped looking for ways to grow and innovate his business. In 1998, for example, Amazon.com began to sell compact discs and videos, in addition to books. A few years later, the company would again grow as items such as consumer electronics, toys, and even clothing began to be sold. The launch of the Amazon Kindle, a digital e-reader, in 2007 would further propel Amazon.com into greatness. By 2011, the company would be worth nearly $18 billion.
Over the course of his career, Jeff Bezos has been recognized for many accomplishments in several areas of his life. These include being named Time magazine’s “Person of the Year” in 1999, Fortune magazines “Businessperson of the Year” in 2012, and a listing as one of the wealthiest people in the world on the Bloomberg Billionaire Index. He also would be given the rank of world’s second best CEO by the Harvard Business Review (behind late Apple CEO Steve Jobs) and receive an Innovation Award for his development of the Amazon Kindle.
Lessons from Jeff Bezos
As an entrepreneur, there are several key lessons that can be learned from this pioneer of e-commerce and brilliant businessman.
#1. Take Chances.
Bezos is quoted as saying “If you decide that you’re going to do only the things you know are going to work, you’re going to leave a lot of opportunity on the table.”
#2. Don’t Regret.
Things in life and business don’t always turn out as you plan, but being able to look back on decisions and action in life without regret is key to being successful. When asked about his famous “regret minimization framework”, he said “The framework I found which made the decision incredibly easy was what I called – which only a nerd would call – a ‘regret minimization framework’. So I wanted to project myself forward to age 80 and say, ‘Okay, now I’m looking back on my life. I want to have minimized the number of regrets I have.’” He also spoke of his own choices saying, “I knew that if I failed I wouldn’t regret that, but I knew the one thing I might regret is not trying.”
#3. Always Innovate.
“What is dangerous is not to evolve” Bezos has said repeatedly. His diligence to never fear change, along with his blatant refusal to stagnate, have truly been key factors in making Amazon the company that it is today.
I want more stuff like this!