by Tony Hsieh (Business Plus)
If Zappos is one of the great online success stories, then its CEO Tony Hsieh might be one of the great entrepreneurs of the internet age. His shoe and apparel retail site, which he founded in 1999 with the proceeds of the sale of his previous venture, LinkExchange, to Yahoo, was transformed from a failing business into the biggest online shoe store on the planet – building the company around customer service. In 2009, Hsieh again agreed to sell, this time to Amazon – and this time for $1.2 billion.
His first book, Delivering Happiness, retells the Zappos tale, interspersing his recollections with some important how-to lessons for other aspiring web entrepreneurs. Hsieh has, as you might expect, a unique insight into the world of internet start-ups, contemporary corporate culture and exit strategies. He also has a super-charged self confidence, which is apparent in an introduction that claims he refused the use of an editor to get one over on his English teachers.
Sadly, it’s a grating tone that does resurface throughout the 260 or so pages, but there is enough crucial information, and coming from someone who is no one-hit wonder, that it ought to be essential for those either starting a company, shaping its culture or operating in online retail. It covers employee ownership and personal growth, in which promotions and salary rises are linked to skills development, and total management transparency. It also demonstrates the success of empowering frontline employees to deliver the best solutions to the customer.
Ultimately, the book is about how placed happiness – or at least his bottom-line-driven version of it – at the heart of his company. For a serial entrepreneur, it’s a lesson in positivity as much as policy. “Part of the purpose of the book,” he told Amazon, “is to help other entrepreneurs and business owners go straight to combining profits, passion, and purpose.
Read more about regulations in past issues:-
1. E-Business: Roadmap for Success
2. Talent Code
3. Small is the New Big