Amazon and its founder, Jeff Bezos, seem to be everywhere at the moment. You can barely read any business section in a newspaper (online, more than likely) or business website that doesn’t talk about them.
Yes, we all know that there is a downside in that Amazon is wiping out a lot of retailers – and jobs – in its quest to dominate retail sales, but for the sake of this article, we’ll leave behind the negative consequences of their astonishing growth.
On May 15, 1997, a money-losing online bookstore went public on the Nasdaq. Twenty years later, Amazon.com is worth nearly $460 billion.
To get there, the Seattle-based empire has pumped nearly all of the cash it generates into huge new investment areas, like Amazon Prime, Amazon Web Services and the Alexa voice computing platform. With a focus on growth over net income, Jeff Bezos’s company has penetrated industry after industry at a pace perhaps unmatched in modern history.
Bezos copped huge criticism from Wall Steet and shareholders alike for many years in that he was happy to keep losing money in return for building a giant business. He had that inner sense that the profits would come down the track if he was patient.
“Because of our emphasis on the long term, we may make decisions and weigh trade-offs differently than some companies,” he has been quoted as saying.
Bezos briefly became the wealthiest person in the world in July, and retook that title in the past week with $117 billion to his name. However the real reason I am writing about Amazon is not because of money, but because of patience. We are in an age now where everyone is in a hurry. I have to admit that so am I. We want everything now – or at worst by tomorrow. And that’s okay if you’re buying a pair of shoes, but risky when all of our life’s dreams and desires need to be achieved immediately.
The danger in rushing is that we not only cut corners, but we forget that good things really do take time. So often Amazon sounds like a start-up, but the reality is that it is a 20 year-old company. It didn’t happen overnight.
I know in our company, which is now 14 years-old, it has taken a lot, lot longer to get to where we are than I would have liked. We’ve taken the long, slow no-debt road over fast, flashy, quick results. And it has been exceptionally frustrating at times. But all of a sudden I look back and am slightly amazed by how much we have achieved by putting one foot in front of the other, day after day, for so many years. We are in fact about to make another acquisition this week coming.
So just keep in mind as you’re waiting on God for a breakthrough or for an answer that good things do in fact take time. My wife has this saying, which I live by: ‘It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish’.
Patience, plus deep, wise foundations are the best for us to build our lives on. Overnight results or success generally does not last. We can get there fast, but if we haven’t learned lessons along the way, we might be back to where we started – and even worse – before we know it.
“The Lord is good to everyone who trusts in him,
So it is best for us to wait in patience—to wait for him to save us—
And it is best to learn this patience in our youth.”