recent letter to his staff, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos outlines the proverbial “Day 1” landscape, while warning against the complacence of “Day 2.”
In Bezos’ view, a company never can stop being a start-up. He believes that company leaders always need to think as they did on the first day of their business. “Day 2 is stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why it is always Day 1."
His letter is a powerful reminder of the importance of staying focused on your clients and their needs, every day. For instance, marketing of a company is not really about the company’s products or services per se, it is about how those products and services fill the wants and needs of the company’s particular customer.
Bezos makes some key points:
- Provide value. Like many of the successful consumer-facing companies such as Amazon and Zappos, it is client value and client service that differentiate thriving companies from their competitors.
- Focus on the future. Always look ahead for your clients and your business. As markets and industries evolve, so must your products, services and delivery methods.
- See the big picture. Understand that short-term decisions cannot be allowed to affect long-term success. Sometimes, in fact, difficult decisions, such as reorganizing staff, no longer providing certain services and changing product offerings must occur to ensure the long-term health of your business.
- Make decisions quickly and learn from others. Embrace the process of “disagree and commit.” Not everyone will agree on every decision, but it's still possible for people who disagree to work toward the same goal. Those goals should be dictated by quantifiable client feedback. Remember, it is client service and client value that you ultimately should strive to be known for.
- Focus on results and not just process. While process is important, it cannot wag the dog. Use it as a tool, not as the proxy.
Daniel B. Kline, for The Motley Fool, asks, “Is it really always Day 1?” Kline says, “What Bezos is doing is guarding against the contentment that success can bring. He's creating a culture where past results do not guarantee future success so it's always important to strive, innovate, and be open to change.” This is the key takeaway.
This business advice is much like long-term relationships, whether it be marriages, commitments, friendships and the like. In order to keep a relationship fresh and interesting, to meet the wants and needs of the other party, and to keep the relationship alive, it serves us well to think of every new encounter as a first date.
Because, like Kline said, “past results do not guarantee future success,” and this is true in all relationships, business and personal alike.