From the front of the business section of today's New York Times comes this summary of Amazon's rise:
Jeff Bezos made his fortune with one truly big idea: What if a retailer did everything possible to make customers happy?
His forcefully nurtured creation, Amazon, sold as many items as possible as cheaply as possible and delivered them as quickly as possible. The result is that $40 out of every $100 spent online in the United States goes to Amazon and Mr. Bezos is worth $150 billion.
What a great example of how in capitalism you can get rich not by cheating your customers or taking advantage of them, but by delivering value to them and delighting them. It's funny because the Times and other critics of capitalism don't often admit this about Amazon or about other companies. Elsewhere in the Times you might have read that Bezos got rich by mistreating his white-collar employees, hiring reckless and deadly delivery drivers, jeopardizing the lives of warehouse workers, and evading state sales taxes. Anyway, these theories of how Bezos got rich may not be entirely mutually exclusive, but I'm happy to see the Times indulging the possibility that a customer focus is a key ingredient to capitalist success.
It reminded me of a recent blog post by Richard Press of J. Press, which is a much smaller business than Amazon:
In many ways the growth and evolution of J. Press from preppy icon to global label happened under your stewardship. Any advice for the aspiring entrepreneurial manager out there?
RP – Work hard, don't give up the ship when it rocks, learn all aspects of the business, especially the requirements of your targeted customers.