The Amazon Method

Have you ever started down a YouTube rabbit hole? It's easy to do, those videos keep popping up, and you can't help but click on the next one. As I was waiting for our editor, Austin, to get done with edits for our episode, "Conquer Your Supply Chain." I inadvertently started going down a rabbit hole.

Down the rabbit hole

In the episode we were working on, our friend, Donnie Williams, mentioned Amazon had purchased a company named "KIVA Robotics." They bought them so they could implement KIVA's robots in its distribution centers.

I did a little digging and came across this video. As I was watching it, I was struck by how advanced the company is.

Hundreds of robots, like ants, shooting everywhere and communicating with each other where they have been and where they're going.

Here's a quick walkthrough of how their distribution centers work.

Stocking the shelves

When they load the merchandise onto shelves, they have cameras that track where human workers place the inventory. The artificial intelligence they built collects that data and stores it away to be accessed whenever you or I order that item. The robot will then take the shelf and store it somewhere in the distribution center until it's needed.

When you order something

When you or I hop on our phone and order a new hammer, the autonomous robots scurry around the distribution center and pick up the shelf with the item stowed on it. In a synchronized dance, the robot rolls the rack over to an employee who will get an order form automatically populated on their screen, with the shelf number and number of hammers we need.

Getting it to your house

A sophisticated infrastructure of trucking, airplanes, delivery drivers is behind them to deliver goods to your home. But the innovation continues even in that area. They're innovating ways of delivering with drones and autonomous robotics that will roll down the sidewalk of your neighborhood—bringing you your purchases faster than ever before.

Amazon is a behemoth in the retail marketplace. Continually evolving and getting more precise. And people love it, too. Nearly half of all American citizens have a Prime account. We're willing to wait the two extra days for the convenience of not having to get off the couch and turn off the next episode of Jack Ryan. We love it. The market has changed so rapidly because of Amazon. In the early 2000's you would have opted for the in-store experience over ordering online, but through time and fantastic service, they have changed the consumer mindset.

What does this have to do with you?

Starting a business is challenging. I know, not a groundbreaking statement here. We often get caught up in the trap of perfection, which prevents us from getting anything done. Our podcast guest, Charlie Gilkey, calls this thrashing. We get overwhelmed, so we start diving into the research and wasting precious time not moving the project forward. These things can look like-

  1. Shopping for tools "To do it right."

  2. Saying, "I'll come back to it" and not setting a time and date that you'll come back to it.

  3. Shiny object syndrome

  4. When something doesn't go quite as planned, or when your new shiny tool doesn't work, you end up with analysis paralysis.

I was recently listening to a Podcast called "Business Wars." In one of their most recent stories called "Amazon vs. Walmart," they investigated the beginnings of Amazon and how Jeff Bezos grew the company into one of the world's largest.

In one of the segments, they told the story of the first Christmas season Amazon was in business. It's no surprise that it was an absolute disaster, to the point that the ENTIRE company was packaging boxes. It didn't matter if you were the CEO or a Coder, you were lending a hand to get through the Christmas rush.

Now that I've said that, you're probably nodding your head like "That makes some sense." You can't possibly expect the first Christmas season of new online business to go smoothly; it's just common sense. There are way too many moving parts.

With all of this in mind, I have a question for you.

Why does Amazon get permission to struggle when they start something new?

Why don't you give yourself the same permission?

We treat every new idea like it's a mission to the moon and that people's lives are at stake if we get it wrong. If you're looking to start a business or even a new side hustle, you've over-analyzed the ramifications of failure. You think that you will be in an ash-heap or homeless if something were to go wrong—the laughing-stock of the business world.

Let me assure you, the people around you don't care that much. They're too busy dealing with the things they have going on in their own lives to be concerned with your piddly idea.

Please don't hear me wrong; there's no reason to be irresponsible and put your family on the street. There IS a line.

The first year they were in business, they had their web developers and marketers packing boxes for them. And now? The most sophisticated supply chain operation on planet earth.

Perfection was not the name of the game for Amazon in the beginning; the goal was to start something they knew would change the way the world purchased goods.

by Tyler Campbell