Amazon is arguably one of the most successful startups to date. It’s founder, Jeff Bezos is a mastermind in innovation and someone I’ve followed to see how he moves. Investors even give Amazon an ‘Innovation Premium’ when they calculate their stock price, which is because they are positive that Amazon will do cool shit like Drone deliveries and what not.
This optimism is a result of decades of straight KILLING it. The Seattle based company began as a simple online bookstore and now processes roughly 5% of all online transactions, which means big man Bezos runs the largest e-commerce company in the world. Given their size, you would expect the company to lack the ability to innovate.
According to Steve Blank, a serial entrepreneur, co-author of The Startup Manual (highly recommended!!), and father of the “lean start-up” movement, there are three reason why established companies can’t innovate:
The focus of an established firm is to execute and maintain the current business model
Discovering a new business model is inherently risky, and is far more likely to fail than to succeed
People who are best suited to search for new business models and conduct iterative experiments usually are not the same managers who succeed at running existing business units
Over the years Amazon has launched many products including Kindle, Prime, movie production and Fresh. They are always innovating because of Bezos’ commanding leadership. In fact, Harvard Business Review named Bezos the best LIVING CEO.
What can we learn from Amazon for our own ventures?
“We will continue to make investment decisions in light of long-term market leadership considerations rather than short-term profitability considerations or short-term Wall Street reactions.”
Bezos don’t give two shits about investors and what they think. What he does care about is having a properly proportioned portfolio approach to managing innovation, which is basically improving current operations while, at the same time, investing into new side businesses.The business model of innovation is based on long-term returns. Unfortunately, most big companies look for quarterly returns with weekly execution reports, which is wack because they are just shooting themselves in the foot.
Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment and Fail
In the same 1997 annual report, Bezos included:
“We will continue to measure our programs and the effectiveness of our investments analytically, to jettison those that do not provide acceptable returns, and to step up our investment in those that work best. We will continue to learn from both our successes and our failures.”
The main function of a startup is to search for a valid business model. We all know this.
Turning an aspect of an idea into something that people are willing to pay for is crucial to the success of any venture. Bezos stated that Amazon will be continuously experimenting and for the shareholders to be patient and keep quiet. Trying to search for a new business model is risky, and is far more likely to fail than to succeed. As a startup, you have this flexibility to try new things out.
Don’t Make Unnecessary Sacrifices
In a traditional retail environment, the general thinking would lead you to pick between offering a lower price for the customer or fantastic customer service. Amazon made no such sacrifice. Their business model was not viable until they were able to perform three product tasks necessary in an information-based industry: 1) Aggregate 2) Filter 3) Connect. Once Amazon had enough traffic, they were able to accurately connect customers with recommended products based on aggregate purchasing behavior, and their dominant business model took off. In 2002, Jeff Bezos said:
“Traditional stores face a time-tested tradeoff between offering high-touch customer experience on the one hand and the lowest possible prices on the other. How can Amazon.com be trying to do both?
The answer is that we transform much of customer experience—such as unmatched selection, extensive product information, personalized recommendations, and other new software features—into largely a fixed expense. With customer experience costs largely fixed (more like a publishing model than a retailing model), our costs as a percentage of sales can shrink rapidly as we grow our business. Moreover, customer experience costs that remain variable—such as the variable portion of fulfillment costs—improve in our model as we reduce defects. Eliminating defects improves costs and leads to better customer experience.
We believe our ability to lower prices and simultaneously drive customer experience is a big deal, and this past year offers evidence that the strategy is working.
We have significant data related to price elasticity. With fair accuracy, we can predict that a price reduction of a certain percentage will result in an increase in units sold of a certain percentage. With rare exceptions, the volume increase in the short term is never enough to pay for the price decrease.
However, our quantitative understanding of elasticity is short-term. We can estimate what a price reduction will do this week and this quarter. But we cannot numerically estimate the effect that consistently lowering prices will have on our business over five years or ten years or more.”
Basically Amazon can have it’s cake AND eat it too. They were able to solve a problem and not make any sacrifices that would have broken their business model. Think though your business model and see how you can adjust and tweak certain aspects to create something unique.
Amazon has disrupted and dominated e-commerce and accounted for more than 5% of last year’s total e-commerce sales, which passed $1 trillion for the first time. Amazon is seen as a leader with so many lessons from which to learn from. It goes without saying that they are one of the most innovative companies on the planet.
Entrepreneurship is a labor of love, and like any great love, that often means a lot of passion and a lot of persistence to reach your happily ever after. There are set-backs and failures and successes and triumphs, but it just may be that all those peaks and valleys are what make being an entrepreneur so great.
The one ingredient you’ll always need for the journey of entrepreneurship is persistence. It can take your further than any other quality alone. Here are 10 great quotes about persistence and passion to fuel your journey forward.
Energy and persistence conquer all things. -- Benjamin Franklin
The power to keep going will conquer all other obstacles. Combine that with the energy and passion to see new ways around challenges and you’ll achieve your goals.
Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not. Nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not. Unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not. The world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. -- Calvin Coolidge
Persistence can overcome almost any challenge. When you put your mind to something and are willing to do everything it takes, including patience, putting in time and adjusting your strategy to get there -- you’ll ultimately know the omnipotence of determination.
Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success. -- Napoleon Hill
It’s important to want things, to have goals and aspirations, but it’s even more important to take the action to achieve them. Thoughts alone won’t get you to the goal line, you’ll need to do the work necessary to reach the objective.
Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty and persistence. --Colin Powell
The qualities that will carry you through to achieve your goals are often the same ones that are necessary for great leadership as well. As an entrepreneur, you’ll likely be a leader, so the quality to inspire as well as persevere will be key to your personal growth and success.
You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it. -- Maya Angelou
Perseverance is the ability to keep going after defeat. Don’t define each stumble or failure along the way, as they are only there to make you stronger. Try to see the other qualities and lessons that come forth and shape who you are as you go.
Ambition is the path to success. Persistence is the vehicle you arrive in. -- Bill Bradley
It’s easy to see successful people and think they were born that way. The reality is that every successful person was ambitious and relentless. Persistence is the vehicle you should be most interested in.
Paralyze resistance with persistence. -- Woody Hayes
Sometimes feelings of defeat, failure and anxiety will sneak up on you. When they do, try to feed your courage instead of fuel your fear. Overcome the resistance with unrelenting persistence.
If you’re going through hell, keep going. -- Winston Churchill
Parts of the journey will be hellish and hard, but the only thing that can make it worse is quitting. Keep going. Make the struggle worth it by persisting.
Champions keep playing until they get it right.-- Billy Jean King
If you want to become a champion in life and in your niche, keep going. No matter what hardships you face, learn to keep playing the game until you succeed.
If you can’t fly, then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward. -- Martin Luther King, Jr.
Some days the actions you take will be big, other days your best will be very little, but keep moving forward to persevere and succeed.
Looking for the best ways to publicize your content?
Want more social exposure from the get-go?
Sharing on a variety of social media platforms in different ways helps you engage with a variety of audiences.
In this article I’ll share posting guidelines you can use to promote your content for the first 24 hours after it goes live.
Find ways to boost your content reach with social media.
Whether you publish a new blog post, video clip, audio interview or other piece of content, you want to spread the word to your followers as fast and efficiently as possible. While the exact tactics may vary from business to business, the basics for each network remain the same.
First 24 hours: Share the content to Facebook once.
Try not to post new content more than two or three times in the first week after it goes live.
Within these posts, vary the types of Facebook updates. For example, your first post might be a link post, but your second and third updates might be image posts or video posts, if applicable. This helps you appeal to different audience members, as well as generate data on what types of Facebook posts engage your audience best.
Post new content once on Facebook in the first 24 hours.
Each time you post, use different copy and preview images. The different link preview elements on Facebook are editable from the image to the headline to the description. Mix and match to test out different scenarios.
To occasionally amp up your visibility, ask your team members and friends to share your business page updates to their personal accounts. This helps broaden your reach and get your updates in front of people who aren’t already following the company Facebook page.
First 24 hours: Share the content three or four times on Twitter. Keep the following Twitter guidelines in mind.
Use different copy, hashtags and mentions in each update. Don’t just repeat the same message. Change it to see what engages your Twitter followers most.
It’s okay to retweet other people who share your posts, but don’t just leave it at that. Take these opportunities to try to get a conversation going. Also, be aware that you don’t completely fill up your feed with retweets and replies.
Alexandra Skey of Spokal estimates that a new tweet only has a lifespan of about two hours, which means followers who don’t check their feed regularly are likely to miss your updates.
Social Media Examiner adds a hashtag to their article tweets the second time they’re shared in 24 hours.
Although you have the flexibility to post more Twitter updates, you still want to adjust the tweet frequency, so it’s in line with the average number of tweets you send in a typical day.
For example, if you average around 10 tweets a day, peppering your stream with three or four messages about a new piece of content won’t overwhelm your followers. However, if you only average a few tweets a day, scale back this frequency. That way, your feed doesn’t become too self-promotional.
Pinterest and Instagram
First 24 hours: Pin all blog post images to Pinterest or Instagram.
When you publish a blog post, share the visual elements to a relevant pinboard on Pinterest or in your Instagram feed after the post goes live. This will helpdrive viral interest in your content.
Keep the following rule of thumb in mind:
Post to Pinterest if your audience tends to be middle-aged or older.
Post to Instagram if your audience is younger.
Keep an eye on your traffic referral and engagement rates to see if these general trends hold true for your followers.
Social Media Examiner pins their articles to special subject boards.
Post a number of notable images from a behind-the-scenes, how-to or regular article with your audience. Other options: Turn inspirational quotes from the article intoimages or share content in other formats to Pinterest and Instagram.
First 24 hours: Post content link to profile or long-form blog post.
LinkedIn offers the opportunity to share either short updates in the form of links to content (that you can also tweet) or long-form blog posts in their entirety through LinkedIn Publisher.
Single Grain shares links long-form blog posts on LinkedIn.
Decide how to post on LinkedIn on a case-by-case basis and determine who will post it. Rotating posting duties among senior staff members helps keep things fresh for your readers and lets you reach a wider audience.
When appropriate, post to your company page or in relevant LinkedIn groups.
First 24 hours: Post content link to company profile and/or Google+ communities.
One of the nice things about Google+ is that the network allows users to post long updates. Therefore, you can either share the full blog post to your company profile or draft a custom long intro and then link back to the newly released piece of content.
Social Media Examiner posts articles to Google+ in the first 24 hours.
Depending on the quality of the content, you may also want to post it to your Google+ communities. Generally, though, you’ll only want do this with your highest-quality pieces or with those that you know will perform well with that specific audience.
All social media marketing plans are a little different, so use logic to adjust the guidelines according to your own needs. Trial and error also works wonders to determine what’s successful when promoting new content.
Develop a social posting plan to get your content the attention it deserves in the first 24 hours after it’s published.