5 Things Your Small Business Can Learn from Amazon


Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for Management pros

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Amazon has taken online retail to the next level, evolving from a small startup to the world's largest ecommerce company, but what can you learn from it?

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5 Things Your Small Business Can Learn from Amazon

Founded in 1994, Amazon has ridden the digital revolution and made the most of it, growing from a small startup to the world's largest internet company, even surpassing Walmart as the richest retailer in the US.

But what can you learn from the multi-billion dollar business?

1. Champion humble beginnings

Amazon may be worth billions and sell an incredible number of products today, but when it was founded, the retailer only stocked books. It then diversified its business model to complement the changing industry,  offering DVDs, CDs and eventually developed its own electronic devices and streaming services. If you focus on finding a small but solid foundation to base your business on, this will give you a great starting point from which you can grow with demand.

2. Be stubborn but flexible in the right measure

We are stubborn on vision. We are flexible on details.


Founder Jeff Bezos advocates these two traits for any successful entrepreneur, but adds that figuring out the balance can be a much bigger challenge. Not being stubborn means you're likely to give up too soon on your ideas, but being unable to be flexible could result in you missing a solution to your problem.

3. Don't be scared to innovate and invent

Having a solid foundation at the core of your business will mean you have the freedom to innovate, something you should take advantage of. Amazon offers thousands of products and services because it has evolved its business model. Bezos has always loved inventing and creating new things, from the phone airbag right back to the solar cooker he came up with as a child. 

4. Prioritize your customers

When Amazon started offering free delivery, many believed it would kill the online retailer because it couldn't afford such an investment. In reality, the company calculated that this would draw more revenue in the long term by making  purchases more convenient for its consumers. Since this, Amazon has introduced even more features to attract customers and make the buying process easier.

5. Think about your culture right from the start

You need a culture that high-fives small and innovative ideas and senior executives [that] encourage ideas.


If you've just started out, you may think that company culture isn't something you need to worry about until you begin taking on a significant number of employees. However, the people at the heart of the business - you and any other co-founders - need to agree on the company values and live them. This will mean you'll attract the candidates you need when you start recruiting.

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