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Three Obsessions That Brought Amazon to Business Success

According to the Cambridge Dictionary the noun obsession is described as something that you think about all the time.

To be obsessed with something means you are not going to be the most well rounded person on earth.

You will have much less time with your family and friends, especially in the beginning.

However, it should never reach a level of unhealthy obsession where your mental health and wellbeing starts to deteriorate.

It is the ultimate trade off.

You put in an enormous amount of effort, so that you can do what you love and eventually pay for the lifestyle you desire.

And what happens if you fail?

You get back up and try again with the added wisdom you obtained.

Sam Walton, Founder of WalMart, said after his first chain of stores went out of business:

“I had to pick myself up and get on with it, do it all over again, only even better this time.” – Sam Walton

But let’s have a look at the most successful entrepreneurial leader on earth.

He founded his company in 1994 and remains to be the CEO until this very day.

He built the world’s most valuable brand and his company is now worth $315.5 billion, overtaking both Apple and Google.

He is driven, he is relentless, he is Jeff Bezos.

Obsess over your product/service

When you are a founder of a startup, it is pretty much a given that you are obsessed with whatever you are planning to offer.

Most founders I have met and interviewed during my dissertation are totally obsessed with their startup’s product/service.

Watch the following interview with Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and you will see and hear how obsessed he was in his early days.

Jeff Bezos In 1999 On Amazon’s Plans Before The Dotcom Crash

It takes a lot of effort to get a startup off the ground.

If you are planning to turn your idea into something real, then it is almost a prerequisite that you are obsessed with your startup’s product/service.

If you are not, then you should consider to become obsessed with it because it almost always takes a single minded focus and determinism beyond all else to face and overcome all the challenges to build a successful startup.

If you do not want to use the word obsessed, then use the word devoted.

Whatever word you use, you must feel a burning desire deep within you.

Obsession over your customers

Each year, Amazon is ranked at the top of its category and often top overall on a national index measuring customer satisfaction among America’s largest companies.

It reflects Amazon’s mission in the strongest way possible.

Jeff Bezos is highly customer-focused and while some companies obsess over competition, Amazon obsesses over their customers.

It is also reflected in Amazon’s mission statement with the words: “We seek to be Earth’s most customer-centric company.”

If you ever had a problem with Amazon, then you know that they are what they promise to be.

I am a repeat buyer at Amazon and I continue to be because the price is often fair, shipping often free, and when I have a problem, I immediately get a refund.

But Amazon’s customer obsession goes beyond customer support.

You do not become the world’s most customer-centric company just by thinking of and solving customer problems.

Many companies only start considering customer problems when their customers call.

Not the case at Amazon where customers are treated as “precious sources of information.”

In early meetings, Jeff Bezos famously left an empty seat at the table to represent “the most important person in the room”, his customer.

Over time, Amazon used to fill this seat with ambassadors who were tasked with contributing to meetings by thinking like a customer.

But like any good host does, you do not offer your guest just a seat on your table.

You offer them drinks and food.

Or like Jeff Bezos, you offer an-all-you-can-eat buffet.

Also known as Amazon Prime.

It’s an all-you-can-eat buffet, $79, that gives you free two-day shipping on everything you buy for a year – Jeff Bezos

He knows that it is not economical to offer Amazon Prime at just $79 but he sees it as a marketing expense.

His logic is that when you offer great hospitality to your guests, your guests will come again for a second time.

Simple but brilliant, similar to Amazon’s logo: it has both a smile and an arrow in its design.

The smile symbolises a happy customer and the arrow from A to Z symbolises that Amazon has everything you might ever want or need from A to Z.

This thinking of details helps Jeff Bezos serve his customers in the best possible way.

It continues to pay off.

Obsession over your employees

Most startup fail because of a lack of leadership.

Co-founders and team members are seldom given the tools and training to perform at a high level.

Very often, new leaders wait six month or one year to give their team members’s feedback and guidance.

Customer obsession is powerful.

You cannot build great products without understanding your customers and what they need and ideally you should understand your customers better than they understand themselves.

You want to be customer obsessed like Amazon but you also want to hire and develop the best employees.

You do this by having a state-of-the-art hiring and selection process.

Without all this, you cannot assemble a strong team that is fit for the job to serve your customers in the best possible way.

Amazon knows all this and applies the best management and leadership practices that are available.

It helped them to built the world’s most successful business.

Be like Amazon, be obsessed.

But will these three obsessions be enough to make your startup successful?

Probably not.

You also need a product or service/market fit and be consistent with whatever you do, while maintaining your mental health and wellbeing.

Then you might have a real chance.

Copyright © 2020 Claudio Marseglia. All rights reserved.

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