Should You Imitate Success?


The individuals you surround yourself with are not only a reflection of yourself but also an indication of what you may become. Similarly, when you observe a successful individual, should you be quick to imitate some of their moves in the hope of becoming a mirror of them? Absolutely! As we begin working with business owners in analyzing their marketing, operating, and financial processes and procedures, we are large advocates of not reinventing the wheel if the process works efficiently and accurately. With this being said, there are a multitude of successful traditional and e-commerce businesses, which exist physically throughout the world and on the World Wide Web, respectively. In essence, these businesses or SME’s provide an almost unlimited availability of mentoring without even asking.


Founders, CEOs, and owners frequently possess identical skills. For example, one being the business philosophy regarding the operational interaction of customers and employees. In any event, these skills that contribute to the continuous innovation and ultimately, ongoing success and growth of one business, can be replicated and implemented in another business. Respectfully, this is not to say a small business owner shouldn’t continue providing either their own product-based or service-based innovation into their business. However, this does mean what proves to be successful in one business might prove to be successful in another business. It is valuable, at the least, to observe known success factors in one business and consider what factors might be replicated in another business.


Regardless of what one may conclude about Amazon, it is beyond argument that Amazon is an incredibly successful corporation. The business has and will continue to seek continuous innovation in the way in which it conducts business. More importantly, there is no question Amazon has altered the landscape in which consumers purchase their goods and services and to an effect, this will most likely continue. Ultimately, Amazon will continue the change in which existing businesses must adapt in providing either their product or service.


Yet, we must question how Amazon not only delivers at this capacity daily but also does it so outstandingly well. We can certainly speak to either their effective branding or their operational efficiency or their financial growth and profitability. However, understanding employees are one of a business’ largest asset, it is clear Amazon understands this concept as their employees refer to their 14 leadership principles on a daily basis:


1) Customer Obsession

Leaders start with the customer and work backwards. They work vigorously to earn and keep customer trust. Although leaders pay attention to competitors, they obsess over customers.


2) Ownership

Leaders are owners. They think long term and don’t sacrifice long-term value for short-term results. They act on behalf of the entire company, beyond just their own team. They never say “that’s not my job."


3) Invent and Simplify

Leaders expect and require innovation and invention from their teams and always find ways to simplify. They are externally aware, look for new ideas from everywhere, and are not limited by “not invented here." As we do new things, we accept that we may be misunderstood for long periods of time.


4) Are Right, A Lot

Leaders are right a lot. They have strong judgment and good instincts. They seek diverse perspectives and work to disconfirm their beliefs.


5) Learn and Be Curious

Leaders are never done learning and always seek to improve themselves. They are curious about new possibilities and act to explore them.


6) Hire and Develop the Best

Leaders raise the performance bar with every hire and promotion. They recognize exceptional talent, and willingly move them throughout the organization. Leaders develop leaders and take seriously their role in coaching others. We work on behalf of our people to invent mechanisms for development like Career Choice.


7) Insist on the Highest Standards

Leaders have relentlessly high standards — many people may think these standards are unreasonably high. Leaders are continually raising the bar and drive their teams to deliver high quality products, services, and processes. Leaders ensure that defects do not get sent down the line and that problems are fixed so they stay fixed.


8) Think Big

Thinking small is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Leaders create and communicate a bold direction that inspires results. They think differently and look around corners for ways to serve customers.


9) Bias for Action

Speed matters in business. Many decisions and actions are reversible and do not need extensive study. We value calculated risk taking.


10) Frugality

Accomplish more with less. Constraints breed resourcefulness, self-sufficiency, and invention. There are no extra points for growing headcount, budget size, or fixed expense.


11) Earn Trust

Leaders listen attentively, speak candidly, and treat others respectfully. They are vocally self-critical, even when doing so is awkward or embarrassing. Leaders do not believe their or their team’s body odor smells of perfume. They benchmark themselves and their teams against the best.


12) Dive Deep

Leaders operate at all levels, stay connected to the details, audit frequently, and are skeptical when metrics and anecdote differ. No task is beneath them.


13) Have Backbone; Disagree and Commit

Leaders are obligated to respectfully challenge decisions when they disagree, even when doing so is uncomfortable or exhausting. Leaders have conviction and are tenacious. They do not compromise for the sake of social cohesion. Once a decision is determined, they commit wholly.


14) Deliver Results

Leaders focus on the key inputs for their business and deliver them with the right quality and in a timely fashion. Despite setbacks, they rise to the occasion and never settle.


You may be asking if these principles can be applied to a small business? Absolutely! While Amazon’s 14 leadership principles may be simple to read, integrating these principles within an organization will prove to be quite powerful. So, take some time to begin learning and utilizing some, if not all, of these principles into your daily routine because there is truly nothing wrong in imitating success.

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