Profile of a Great Company:

Posted by Chuck Kocher
On April 23, 2012

You may not know (or remember) a little company named Cadabra that was incorporated in 1994. After founder Jeff Bezos changed the name to in 1995, however, the company went on to become a household name—not only in the United States, but also in Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Japan and China. It is currently the world’s largest retailer.

It’s not just size and name recognition, however, that make a great company. In fact, the things that make a great company are what also made it big and well known. So what are the things that made great? Here are a few things that I think pushed to the top of the mountain.

Vision: Back in 1994, Jeff Bezos was convinced that something was going to happen with this “Internet thing.” He saw that it opened up opportunities that conventional brick and mortar bookstores and catalogers couldn’t match. Conventional stores might be able to offer as many as 200,000 titles, but an online store could offer many times that amount. And Bezos successfully bet that people would jump at the chance to make purchases from the comfort of their homes—any time it was convenient for them—rather than fight the crowds at specified store hours.

Patience: One of the stiffest challenges any business faces is profitability. It’s great to have vision and passion, but somebody has to pay the bills. And early on, there were plenty of business experts wondering if would ever turn a profit. This didn’t surprise the folks at Amazon. Their business plan didn’t expect a profit for four to five years. They were breaking the mold and they knew it would take time to get things rolling. They had the right plan and they stuck to it—despite pressure and expectations from others.

No Resting on Laurels: Even though began as a “bookstore” they didn’t let that designation limit their growth. They quickly branched out to see DVDs, MP3s, CDs, electronic devices, toys, furniture, apparel, and more. They were even innovative when it came to the thing that got them started. They correctly assumed that consumers wouldn’t just be willing to get books in an unconventional way (ordering online), but that they would embrace receiving these books in an entirely new format (digitally). Amazon’s Kindle® is now a dominant force in the exploding e-reader market.

It all comes back to that vision—something that’s even reflected in their corporate logo: Everything from A to Z, with a big smile signifying customer satisfaction. What’s your vision? Do you have the plan, the patience, and the perseverance to see it through? And what are the new opportunities that are open to you?