I do this routine in the classroom to explain to students just how much a billion dollars is. I explain that if a $1,000 bill existed, we could go out tonight and party all night.

Then, I ask them "How many $1,000 bills make a million?" The answer, of course, is 1,000. Continuing, if a million dollar bill existed, we all could take that million bucks and go to the Caribbean and party for a year. Then, I conclude, a billion dollars is a thousand million dollar bills, so we now could party in the Caribbean for a thousand years!

Recent reports say that Jeff Bezos is now the richest person in history, with a net worth of $105.1 billion. Yes, that's right, he theoretically has 105,000 million dollar bills at his disposal.

I argue he has two traits that are worth even more than all that money, and these traits can help you and your small business: drive and a thirst for strategic innovation.


Remember when Amazon was just a bookseller?

Bezos has incredible staying power and vision. There really has been nothing nonchalant about Amazon--the steadfast forward-thinking, data-driven strategies, and execution has been there.

There are many stories that have explained Bezos' drive and work ethic. Among them are:

  • According to Forbes, teenage Bezos had aspirations to become an astronaut--and announced he wanted to be high school valedictorian to help him get there. His classmates apparently gave up at that point, saying they'd all fight for second place.
  • Bezos worked 12 hour days, seven days a week when Amazon was starting, just to make sure books were shipped on time.
  • He's extremely customer driven. He doesn't just talk about customers first--he lives it and demands it, which shows his persistent nature. Bezos commonly leaves a seat empty at meetings, according to the same Forbes article. The empty seat symbolizes the customer--the most important person in the room. Customer analytics and strategy at Amazon are also unmatched--tracking hundreds of goals against objectives, which are mostly customer focused.

There are lessons for aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners and managers. 

  • Work ethic is very important. Your drive must be there--you must walk the proverbial walk. Your pursuit to achieve goals and run your business start and end with effort and attitude, which equals drive. 
  • Your drive must be all about the customer, not yourself. Yes, of course, you want to achieve and prosper in your small business pursuits, but the drive must be toward customers satisfaction--then the success you want will follow.

Thirst for Strategic Innovation

Prime. Scorching hot affiliate programs. Echo. And of course, super-fantastic logistics, robotics, and management of information.

Bezos and Amazon doesn't just roll with the changes in technology, regulations, and culture. They analyze, adapt, and accentuate them to their advantage. They are as agile and nimble as a cat, and ferociously committed to innovation and change.

The accentuation of innovation is critical here, and it should be the key for you, the start-up entrepreneur or small businessperson. It's easy at times to understand and adapt innovation, but do you accent it for yourself in a strategic future-forward applied manner?

Bezos takes innovations such as drones, robotics, and information technology, and applies them in meaningful ways for his company. It's not just a novelty--he makes them into accents or emphases on his services.

You too can do this, even without the massive resources and flexible budgets that Bezos possesses. When you adopt an innovation for your business, be nimble and forward-thinking on how it can accentuate your business long term. Otherwise, why are you really innovating? Even the most modest adoptions of innovation can be accentuated.

For example, if you put a chatbot on your website, don't make it a novelty. Make sure it can accentuate your business--helping with future message app development, social media strategy, promotions, speeding-up online orders, and providing quicker customer service. Make your relentless thirst for innovation count with bountiful accentuation.

A $105.1 billion net worth is crazy big, but in my opinion, Jeff Bezos' drive and thirst for strategic innovation is worth even more.