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The Amazon Effect: Your Mission is Your Compass

Each year, Jeff Bezos, the mastermind and business innovator behind Amazon shares a letter with his shareholders. These letters, dating back to 1997, serve as a goldmine of independent and innovative thinking for today’s business leaders. Our series, The Amazon Effect, focuses around these letters – and today we’re discussing working with people who align with your mission statement.

In his very first letter, in 1997, he spoke about how he wanted to do business with shareholders that held similar values to him. Amazon, in a lot of ways, is a trailblazing venture for how it did business. Yes, they redefined bookselling and were pioneers in the online retailing space as a whole.

But their approach to business, viewing things from the lens of their customer and being unwavering and focused in their mission statement, make them stand apart from many businesses to this day.

As businesses grow (and especially if they go public), it’s easy for the focus to shift from what it was on day one to something entirely different. You’ve got shareholders to please, partners and investors to explain to, and an entire team of employees.

These new voices all have different motives that can distract from the main goal of the business. Like we mentioned earlier in the series, a lot of these voices might be thinking short-term - looking for immediate or near immediate success.

While their decision-making might yield a bump in stock price, a swell in revenue, or a drop in overhead right now, those decisions might not bode well for the business years down the road.

Bezos made clear in his very first letter that he was not interested in doing business this way.

Day to day stock prices, and other short-term gains and losses were not as important to him as sticking to his core value or being an industry leader and serving his customer base. So, point blank, if you didn’t believe in his vision and see things from that perspective, he probably wasn’t interested in doing business with you.

Again, that’s a decision that might have hurt him in the short-term. You can imagine there might have been White Knight-type investors that would have been willing to spend lots of money to partner with Bezos are one time or another. But Bezos was choose-y, and so should you.

Getting in bed with whatever partner or client comes first no matter what their perspective is can land you money immediately, but might compromise your business in the long-term. This count for team members, too. We’ve talked about how some employees will be very short-sighted and motivated only by that week’s check.

You want to build your culture around people with an ownership mentality, and people who buy into your vision - not people looking to cash a check or make a quick buck.

In our series, “The Amazon Effect” we’ll delve further into Bezos’ yearly letters to shareholders and how they can help you and your small business. Keep checking back for more.

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