When I think of some of my favorite entrepreneurs who are my mentors, I immediately think of CEOs like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Travis Kalanick, and many others I respect and admire being a technology CEO's. I assimilate with others because when they talk about their challenges and failures in technology, because I am a tech CEO and see them every day.
However, for the longest time I had a hard time sympathizing with top tier CEOs that were in the industrial, and retail business, such as Jack Welch, and Sam Walton. I always shell out $100/week to Costco, and I have been following it as a business since 2010. It is also one of the most successful businesses in the world, and their founder and CEO has done a phenomenal job executing a vision that most businesses such as Sams Club cannot compete with.
As a founder, I even recognize some of the most powerful attributes and concepts that Costco has, that every business, software or not, should think about when building a powerful strategy. Here are 4 lessons from Costco that you can implement in your business.
1. High quality customer service
Every time I walk into a Costco, I immediately find myself appalled at how much I spend. I consider myself to be fairly frugal, but coming out of Costco every time spending $100 is unbelievable.
The reason? High quality customer service.
Every time I buy from Costco, I don't even flinch about swiping my card, because of the flexibility and ease that high quality customer service has. For me, it's almost as if I feel that Costco has more trust in me, that I will love their products, and if not, I can bring it back.
2. Employee circular vision
I had a conversation during my weekly Costco visit with Blake, who was the specialist for the eye glasses department. When asked about the work, he says "I love it, and it's extremely rewarding because my managers and upper management care.
When asked how does he know they care, he cited his pay, which was much higher than the industry standard, stock options, future growth trajectory in the company, and interest that upper management has in the store he works in.
The first time I walked into a Costco, I was in awe.
No furnished ceilings!
Costco is the definition of keeping it super simple, especially with their delicious food court, check out lines (no candy during checkout!), and warehouse like furniture.
It's a major lesson that many of us need to think about. When I see many startups in todays ecosystem, I think about businesses that spend millions on fancy cars, office spaces, and more importantly, things that in retrospect don't really matter.
4.Focus on execution, instead of competition
As many successful entrepreneurs will tell you, ideas are worthless unless you can execute effectively.
Especially with the neck to neck competition that Costco has with startups like Instacart that are delivering food to people's homes, or Sam's Club with their powerful distribution and bartering skills, it's hard to put your head down and execute every day. Yet, Costco does it, and does it extremely well.
Costco has done some incredible things that most businesses. Small or large would dream of executing. Fundamentally, Costco understands that spending money on their employees, and not on things that "don't matter" will make their company a better place to work, and a better place to shop.
What are some lessons larger companies have taught you?