Each year I make an effort to learn from big business acquisitions. When Facebook bought Instagram, I coached clients to prepare for more visual communication. When Microsoft bought LinkedIn, I focused on the importance of developing leads online.

Now I’m intrigued by the  Amazon-Whole Foods mega-merger.

On the surface, most entrepreneurs can’t relate to a $13.7 billion buy-out. Yet, when you take a deep dive, lessons abound in learning how to think like big business.

Build Incredible Partnerships

According to HuffPost, Amazon and Whole Foods are on track to change the grocery store industry. “Whole Foods gives Amazon’s grocery business a much-needed boost while Whole Foods gets to enjoy an upgrade in its data and technology.” That’s a win-win for everyone.

Strategic partnerships with like-minded companies allow businesses to enhance product lines and differentiate from the competition. The key ingredients to successful collaboration are:

  • Mutual engagement by partners
  • Customer engagement
  • Mutual benefit for each company

Have you leveraged creative partnerships to grow your business?

Customer-Focused Business

Jeff Bezos, Founder of Amazon, is in the business of making life easy for customers. Amazon Prime and Kindle are two examples. With his new acquisition, grocery shopping will move to become an experience built on convenience tailor-made for each shopper.

Like Amazon, small businesses need to anticipate customer wants and develop strategies accordingly. Key lesson: listen to your customers and consider their individual needs.

Do you know what your customers really want and need?

Act Quickly

Amazon completed its purchase of Whole Foods in nearly three months, which is unusually quick for such a large transaction. The deal was barely closed when the companies jointly announced that they would be offering lower prices on select products. That took less than a day.

Do people in your organization have to jump through hoops and levels of approval just to take action? Can your company act with speed and agility?

Play To Your Strengths

Amazon specializes in affordability and access. Whole Foods needed assistance to remain competitive. The merger allows Amazon to exercise their know-how to the grocery chain. By taking a risk and being proactive in addressing their weakness, Whole Foods achieves an innovative competitive advantage and remains relevant in their industry.

What are you doing to capitalize on your strengths?

Disrupt or Be Disrupted

Taxi drivers never imagined that the Silicon Valley start-up Uber would become its greatest threat.   No one thought a book retailer, Amazon, would lead the way in cloud services and dominate all forms of retail.

As technologies advance and converge, competitive disruption will affect almost every industry in the next decade. Market leaders who continue to believe that old business models can support new products are likely to go the way of Blockbuster and Kodak.

Companies, large and small, must embrace technological advances; they must live the mindset of a technology startup with all divisions working together to employ bold thinking and creative collaboration.

How do you embrace technology as a differentiator in your business?