Jeff Bezos (Amazon): Top Ten Maxims for Business Success

Jeff Bezos Amazon Top Ten Maxims for Business Success Chris Banescu –
Jeff Bezos, the founder and current CEO of Amazon.com, offers ten maxims that have helped him turn Amazon into the world-class company it is today. Leaders should consider these important principles if they want to insure the long-term success of their businesses. The list was compiled by George Anders, Forbes contributor who writes about management, careers and unforgettable personalities. This story appeared in the April 23, 2012 issue of FORBES magazine.

1. “Base your strategy on things that won’t change.”
Selling lipstick, tractor seats, e-book readers and data storage is all part of one big plan with three big constants: offer wider selection, lower prices and fast, reliable delivery.

2. “Obsess over customers.”
Early on Bezos brought an empty chair into meetings so lieutenants would be forced to think about the crucial participant who wasn’t in the room: the customer. Now that ­surrogate’s role is played by specially trained employees, dubbed “Customer Experience Bar Raisers.” When they frown, vice ­presidents tremble. [Read more…]

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Relying On Customer Trust To Help You Weather A Tough Economy

Customer Trust Customer Service Key to Successby Don Peppers –
You’ve probably heard the joke: Two hunters confront a large grizzly bear. Their weapons misfire and the bear comes at them. The first hunter takes off running, but the second one pauses briefly to discard his hunting boots and put on running shoes. “Don’t waste so much time!” the first hunter yells over his shoulder, “Running shoes aren’t going to be enough to outrun that bear!” The second hunter, quickly catching up with his friend, replies “I don’t need to outrun the bear. I just need to outrun you!”

So now the question is: Do you have the right shoes to outrun your competitors? You might want to consider how well your customers trust you to act in their interest.

In tough times, buyers want to economize every bit as much as sellers do, so customers cut back, simplify, and search for reliability. Discount stores benefit as consumers look for bargains, but customer-oriented sellers also benefit, as customers seek out businesses they can trust. [Read more…]

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A Cautionary Tale of Failing to Continually Innovate

Motorola RAZR phone
In the global phone handset market Motorola went from the market leader to market laggard in just six years. Its earnings fell from US$4bn to $0.6bn and its share price from $180 to $46 over this time. Theirs is a cautionary tale of what can happen when you fail to recognize the changes occurring in the wider market and how quickly customer expectations can change.

How could the company that first invented the mobile phone 35 years ago and then hold the No. 1 market position for most of the next three decades make such a bad error in judgment?

Motorola’s demise actually stemmed from its greatest success – the RAZR handset. Launched in 2003 the ultra-thin handset with the clam shell appearance sold a staggering 110 million units over the next four years. Its impact was so extraordinary that the industry magazine PC World rated it #12 in The Greatest Gadgets of the last 50 years. Buoyed by this success the company introduced nine separate versions of the RAZR in quick succession. [Read more…]

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7 Steps to a Culture of Innovation

Foster Innovation, Culture of Innovationby Josh Linkner –
Hyper-growth companies often credit a culture of innovation as their primary driver of success. They deploy creative thinking to attack problems big and small. Here’s how you can too.

We live in a business world accelerating at a dizzying speed and teeming with ruthless competition. As most of the tangible advantages of the past have become commoditized, creativity has become the currency of success. A 2010 study of 1,500 CEOs indicated that leaders rank creativity as No. 1 leadership attribute needed for prosperity. It’s the one thing that can’t be outsourced; the one thing that’s the lifeblood of sustainable competitive advantage.

Unfortunately, most companies fail to unleash their most valuable resources: human creativity, imagination, and original thinking. They lack a systematic approach to building a culture of innovation, and then wonder why they keep getting beaten to the punch. [Read more…]

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Building Online Trust: 7 Tips for Being Authentic Online

Being Authentic Onlineby Alice Hansen –
How can you make sure your brand inspires trust online? These tips will help your company feel more real—and build real relationships—through transparency and honesty.

A client working on her social media strategy asked me a couple of days ago for guidance on gauging the credibility of industry bloggers. She wants to cultivate mutually beneficial relationships with opinion-leading peers in her market space. Without actually meeting these people, how can one tell a legitimate, trusted expert source from a self-proclaimed one?

That question of whom to trust is the same for all of us when evaluating a business online. We look for basic data points to validate legitimacy. [Read more…]

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Five Things You Should Never Say While Negotiating

by Mike Hofman –
Every entrepreneur spends some time haggling, whether it is with customers, suppliers, investors, or would-be employees. Most business owners are street smart, and seem to naturally perform well in negotiations. You probably have a trick or two—some magic phrases to say, perhaps—that can help you gain the upperhand. But, often, the moment you get into trouble in a negotiation is when something careless just slips out. If you are new to negotiation, or feel it is an area where you can improve, check out these tips on precisely what not to say. [Read more…]

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Intel CEO Otellini on Successful Company Culture

Intel CEO Paul Otellini
Intel CEO Paul Otellini
by Rich Karlgaard –
(Note: Last week I sat down with Intel’s Paul Otellini to talk about technology in the 2-to-5-year future. Can Moore’s Law continue? What will smartphones, tablets and PCs look like in two years? I will publish our conversation in the March 14 issue of Forbes magazine. Meanwhile, enjoy Otellini’s riff on Intel’s amazing 43-year-old corporate culture. Steve Jobs may be the iconic entrepreneur/CEO of Silicon Valley, but Intel, I would argue, is the iconic culture.)

Name a Silicon Valley giant that has managed CEO succession well. HP hasn’t. Sun blew it. Advanced Micro Devices never adequately replaced Jerry Sanders. Apple dropped the baton repeatedly its first incarnation – Steve Jobs to John Sculley, Michael Spindler and Gil Amelio — and it’s too early to tell if Tim Cook can replace Jobs this time around. Larry Ellison still runs Oracle, and Cisco is only on its second CEO, John Chambers. Google has gone back to its founders, and Facebook is not even yet public.

Among large companies, only Intel has mastered CEO succession multiple times. [Read more…]

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How to Turn Disaster Into Gold

Campfire logo 37signals by Jason Fried –
When one of our products malfunctioned, thousands of stranded customers erupted in fury. Yet we came out of the crisis more credible than ever. Here’s what we did.

It was a really lousy week.

One of 37signals’s key products is Campfire, a real-time chat tool for small businesses. For about a week in mid-December, Campfire, which users access via the Web, kept bouncing on- and offline. This was the first major problem we have had with Campfire since it launched in 2006. For a product that needs to be as reliable as the dial tone on your phone, things couldn’t have been worse.

Thousands of companies rely on Campfire. At 37signals, we use Campfire to run our business. Because we have employees in a dozen cities around the world, Campfire is our lifeline. It’s how we communicate with one another in real time. Campfire is where we make decisions, share designs, debate ideas, broadcast companywide announcements, and keep up to date on what everyone’s working on. [Read more…]

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Five Reasons Electric Cars Will Disappoint

2011 Nissan Leaf
2011 Nissan Leaf

12/1/2010 – Rick Newman –
They’re cool. That’s for sure.

The Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt could turn out to be the most innovative mass-produced cars in a century. By taking some or all of their power from a household electrical outlet, they offer the first real glimpse of transportation that doesn’t rely on petroleum—and could even crest the magical 100-miles-per-gallon threshold, once the official electricity-to-gasoline conversions are complete. Even better, the two electrics offer something new without the ugly packaging that has doomed futuremobiles in the past. They’re cute, actually.

The Leaf is a perky five-passenger hatchback with sporty handling that can go about 100 miles on an eight-hour charge. The Volt, a bit edgier, is a four-passenger hatch that can go about 40 miles on a charge, with a gas engine that kicks in after that. Both offer a comfortable interior, futuristic controls, and do-gooder credibility. Together, these first-generation electrics set worthy standards for competing models from Toyota, Ford, Smart, and even Chinese manufacturers to meet or beat as they arrive over the next few years.

Now for the bad news: Hardly anybody will buy one, and for a good long while most car buyers will consider electric vehicles to be a great purchase—for somebody else to make. [Read more…]

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Eight Ideas for Small Business Success

Privé Products 10/5/2010 – Drew Neisser –
How petite Privé Products succeeded where giant P&G couldn’t.

Before I could even get in my first question, my hands were already covered with a soft liquid that transformed into a foamy shampoo. An excited Jackie Applebaum, the CEO of, exclaimed that “this is an unbelievable shampoo and never before has this been done in a can.” And before my hands were dry, she had me trying a non-aerosol mousse from a tiny 2.5 ounce bottle that Applebaum noted was “also blowing out the door.” This emphasis on unique products was both refreshing and enlightening, setting up this 8-point guide for small business success.

1. Create unique products to take the challenge out of marketing
With sales expected to rise 30% in 2010, obviously Applebaum is not alone in her enthusiasm for Privé’s new products. “The assignment I gave the lab is that I don’t want ‘me too’ products,” offered Applebaum. “We now have cutting edge products with cutting edge delivery systems that the market is responding to,” she added. While many small businesses feel out gunned by their larger competitors R&D departments, Privé decided that having unique products that “marketed themselves” would be the only way they could cost-effectively build their company. [Read more…]

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New Leaders: Find Your Poker Face or Perish

8/8/2010 – Shawn Graham –

For most of my adult life, I was incredibly easy to read. I wore my heart, and most of my facial expressions, on my sleeve. On occasion, that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. Other times, such as in my high school English class where the teacher threw note cards at me after I rolled my eyes, it was. Growing up I was never much of a card player so I didn’t have the chance to really develop and practice my poker face and that has, on more than one occasion, hampered my ability to successfully navigate organizational politics (or high school English classes). In speaking with other extroverts in leadership roles, those who struggle with filtering and/or masking their emotions and reactions often have a difficult time progressing through an organization. [Read more…]

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The 20 Most Important Questions In Business

6/17/2010 – Christopher Steiner and Brett Nelson –
Entrepreneurs can’t completely inoculate their businesses from the vagaries of the market. What they can do is wrestle with the fundamental questions that govern the fate of any enterprise. We’ve done our best to compile the 20 most important ones.

Digging for those answers is a grueling exercise–one that takes serious intellectual and emotional honesty. With any hope, the process begins long before money’s been spent, products are built and customers are lost. [Read more…]

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How Zappos Delivers Happiness

6/1/2010 – Gregory Ferenstein –

The funny thing about business books is that for many stories, there are countless counterexamples of management philosophies that are radically different, yet still successful. What is inspiring about Zappos.com, the world’s largest online shoe retailer, is that it is possible for a business to be founded on curiosity, built with friendship, and sustained with employee happiness. CEO Tony Hsieh’s (pronounced “shay”) retelling of the Zappos story in the upcoming Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose is a zippy, pleasant read about a business model that doesn’t compartmentalize labor and leisure.

Indeed, it appears that Zappos thrives in the most outrageous displays of its employees’ individuality. During tours of their head office, a potential client might see karaoke, a make-shift bowling alley, a petting zoo, or a napping worker. [Read more…]

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Can Entrepreneurship Be Taught To Big Business?

Forbes.com | by Matt Symonds | 4/23/2010
Entrepreneurship has become big business. Nearly two-thirds of all the colleges and universities in the U.S. offer formal courses in it, 10 times as many as in the 1970s, when only 200 institutions had the temerity to think they could teach such a thing. Now business schools are realizing that even if not everyone wants to be their own boss, people do want to know the secrets of successful entrepreneurship. So they are looking at a new set of potential students–“corporate entrepreneurs.”[Read more…]

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Six Rules For Website Design

Inc.com | Crispin Porter and Scott Prindle | 4/1/2010
These days, its more crucial than ever to make a good first impression online. If your website is hard to navigate or just boring to look at, you’re probably not going to get many repeat visitors. Crispin Porter + Bogusky’s partner managing director of interactive Winston Binch, and Scott Prindle, the advertising and design agency’s VP executive creative technology director, share their ideas for getting the most out of websites. [Read more…]

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Fix It – Even If It Ain’t Broke

FastCompany | by Kaihan Krippendorff | October 12, 2009

When something works, people grow fixated on it. They stop looking for alternative options. And this fixation creates an opportunity for those willing to reconsider the accepted approach. The company I introduced last week, Rosetta Stone (RST), hasn’t been satisfied with the fact that its products work. Instead, it continues to challenge the norm. [Read more…]

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The Three Most Important Rules in Business

Most Important Rules Business Success From my years of experience working for different companies and teaching various graduate business courses, I developed three rules that management must practice in order to achieve long-term profitability and success. Follow these rules and a business can remain healthy and prosper. Ignore them and failure is virtually guaranteed in the long term.

Rule #1 – Always Meet and Exceed Customer Expectations.
Meeting and exceeding customer expectations is the most important but often overlooked rule of business. The only way a company stays in business is if the customer is satisfied with its product or service. This generates profit, builds long-term stability, and meets the challenge of competitors. Meeting expectations should be considered the baseline for company performance. Exceeding expectations should be the ultimate goal. [Read more…]

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Surviving the Downturn: Lessons From Emerging Markets

The Wall Street Journal | by Martin S. Roth & Richard Ettenson | Mar. 23, 2009

As Western companies struggle to navigate the worst economy in generations, here’s one piece of advice: Look at places where volatility is business as usual — emerging markets.

In these countries, companies have learned they can’t just hunker down when bad times strike. They have to go on the offensive. In Eastern Europe, South Africa and Latin America, managers look at tumultuous times as a chance to implement bold, creative ideas, outflank rivals and boost their business. [Read more…]

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