4 Lessons of Business Development I Learned from Warren Buffet, Jeff Bezos and Others

4 Lessons I Learned from Warren Buffet, Jeff Bezos & Others

By incorporating these lessons, you can grow any business.

Stand Back & Watch Your Business Grow by Following These Tips from Masters of Commerce

As a chief executive officer, I am always scouring the internet looking for best practices to implement and even more ways to grow my business. My search for more insights into running a business led me recently to read published letters to shareholders by such icons of success as Warren Buffet and Jeff Bezos. And I found a few gems in those letters, which I would like to share.

Lesson 1: Wake Up Terrified

Terrified of what? It may not be what you think. One of my favorite pieces of advice came from legendary college basketball coach John Wooden, the UCLA coach known as the “Wizard of Westwood.” When on the floor in warmups, Wooden would tell his players not to look at the other team. He would say, “Let them worry about us.” He reminded them they had a game plan and were going to execute it. “Our job,” he told them, “is to focus on our plan. Their job is to figure out how to stop us.”

So, if we’re not worried about the competition, why do we wake up terrified? Because there is one person who is always in control and without whose existence your business would surely fail: the customer. And a customer is loyal until someone else offers a better service or delivers a better experience. 

You must always focus on the customer and put them first. That’s lesson number one.

Lesson 2: Know Which Door You’re Going Through

I like to think of decision-making as having two doors. There’s the one-way door that once you walk through it there is really no painless way of coming back. You feel stuck.

Two-way door decisions are different; these are the doors you go through when trying to implement new processes or products to meet current market expectations. As I see it, many dealerships lose market share because they think every decision is a one-way door. It is not. 

Lesson 3: Disagree and Commit

This might be my favorite lesson. In his 2016 letter to shareholders, Jeff Bezos talked about a lot of the changes Amazon had undergone, such as the creation of popular new products
and services, including Amazon Web, Alexa, Prime and so on.  

When Amazon executives got together to plan a new initiative, they wouldn’t always agree. Because speed is important, those same decision-makers didn’t have time to dither. For Amazon, this meant they sometimes had to make decisions without having consensus. How’d they handle it? They’d admit it’s OK to disagree with a decision and, at the same time, commit to its success. It was their way of getting to yes as quickly as possible.

Lesson 4: Create More Than You Consume

In his last letter to shareholders before retiring, Bezos talked about the value of creating more than you consume. Your goal, he argued, should be to create value for everyone you interact with. 

For example, Amazon created value for its shareholders in the form of a net profit. Employee value came in the form of pay and benefits. Third-party sellers profited by selling on Amazon. And customers saved both time and money. 

You can add value and give back more than you receive in many ways, from being a visionary or mentor to others, to recommending and researching new solutions. Go all-in and exceed expectations.

Lesson four is to create value with every interaction, especially with your customers.

Final Lesson: Grow Your People

By incorporating the above four lessons, I believe you can grow any business. But there’s a catch. You first need to build and commit to the kind of foundation that can enable and support a growing business. This final lesson is one I learned first-hand over many years as a CEO. It’s not gleaned from stockholder letters or how-to books; it is based on my observations and experience, combined with a dose of common sense. 

The secret is simple. The easiest way I know to grow a business is to grow the people in it.

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