We’re just back from this year’s Internet Retailer Conference, which featured a keynote address (with the title mentioned above) by Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne. A colorful and engaging speaker, Byrne is a regular guest on many business news networks. When one reporter asked him if he felt bad about having a business model that took advantage of other people’s mistakes and misfortunes, Byrne quoted his mentor (and former employer) Warren Buffett, “If you can’t kick a man when he’s down, when are you going to kick him?”
Byrne’s advice to a packed hall of online retailers was refreshingly direct.
He went on to iterate several steps that he believed were essential to running a successful online business. These included:
1. Measure Everything.
2. Outsource everything you are not great at (he mentioned several business partners currently utilized by his company. We’re sure it’s only an oversight that he didn’t mention Zemoga as the perfect embodiment of this ideal).
3. Control Expenses – especially payroll and those expenses tied to the balance sheet (e.g. carrying cost of inventory)
4. Seek out new business combinations.
While Byrne’s advice may seem simple, it reflects the principles that have helped him build Overstock.com in to a company with over $850 million in annual revenues.
How are you building your business during tough economic times? What are you doing to provide value for your customers?