Jeff Bezos shares best advice for anyone starting a business based on founding Amazon 26 years ago

Business Insider US
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  • Amazon founder Jeff Bezos shared four key pieces of advice that helped make his company a success.
  • At a 2019 conference, Bezos encouraged entrepreneurs to take risks, be passionate, customer-focused, and willing to fail.
  • Bezos founded Amazon in 1995 with only 10 employees. In July, he will step down as CEO of a company that employs 1.3 million people.
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Jeff Bezos has a message for budding entrepreneurs: be ready to take big risks and fail.

Bezos delivered the message at Amazon's Re:Mars conference in Las Vegas after he was asked what advice he would give to anyone looking to start their own business.

At the time, Amazon was one of the most profitable public companies in the world with a market value of nearly $860 billion (R12 trillion). Two years later, the e-commerce giant had more than doubled in value when Bezos announced his plans to step down as CEO on July 5 - the same date the company was incorporated.

"Take risk. You have to be willing to take risk. If you have a business idea with no risk, it's probably already being done," he said at the 2019 conference. "You've got to have something that might not work. It will be, in many ways, an experiment."

Many of those experiments will fail, but "big failures" are a necessary part of the journey toward success, he said.

Bezos will transition to executive chairman of Amazon to focus on "new products and early initiatives." The CEO has long been known for his cutting-edge business ideas, from using AI-powered systems to monitor Amazon employees to creating Blue Origin, one of the world's first space tourism companies.

"We take risks all the time, we talk about failure," he said. "We need big failures in order to move the needle. If we don't, we're not swinging enough. You really should be swinging hard, and you will fail, but that's okay."

Read more: Jeff Bezos opens up about his father and why he was called 'Yeff' as a child

Bezos founded Amazon in 1995 with just 10 employees. Now, the company is one of the world's biggest employers, with a headcount of about 1.3 million full-time and part-time workers.

At the conference, Bezos said that in addition to taking risks and failing, entrepreneurs must also be passionate.

"You'll be competing against those who are passionate," he said.

Above all, he said, entrepreneurs should be "customer-obsessed."

"The most important thing is to be customer-obsessed," he said. "Don't satisfy them, absolutely delight them."

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