Company leaders are encouraged to come up with a mission statement when starting or growing their small businesses. This statement shares the company’s ultimate goal, which helps direct employees (at all levels) to take the actions needed to propel it toward that desired destination.
Though it is recommended that mission statements be relatively short in length, many business owners and administrators struggle to come up with one or two sentences that clearly state where they’d like to be 10, 20, or 100 years from now. Looking to other successful companies can provide inspiration and serve as a model.
How does the Amazon mission statement do in this regard? There are a few things this company does well but there are also areas where its statement can be improved, both of which can help you as a small business owner who is working on creating your mission statement.
Pro: The Amazon Mission Statement Is Short
One way in which Amazon’s mission statement excels is that it is short: “We aim to be Earth’s most customer centric company.” This trillion-dollar business has captured its total mission in only nine words.
The benefit of keeping your mission statement on the shorter side is that it is easier for employees to remember. It also prevents it from being so complex that your staff is confused about what it is you want to do.
Tip: After creating your mission statement, ask yourself whether it can be stated in fewer words. Remove any words that don’t add value to the statement or that make it harder to understand.
Pro: Amazon’s Mission Statement is Clear
Amazon’s statement is also pretty clear. Its primary goal is to be the best at serving its customer’s wants and needs. This provides a definitive direction for employees when handling a situation or making a decision. It places the focus solely on providing stellar customer service.
This will likely inspire a different response than if the goal is on some other factor, such as Costco’s mission statement to “continually provide our members with quality goods and services at the lowest possible prices.” In Costco’s case, the focus is more so on product quality and price. It is a slight, yet distinct difference.
Tip: Think about this when creating your small business mission statement. When faced with an issue or important decision, where do you want your employees to focus their attention? What is their #1 goal?
Con: The Amazon Mission Statement Is Hard to Find
The one area where the Amazon mission statement falls short is that it isn’t too easy to find, on the U.S. website anyway. If you go to Amazon’s U.K. site, its mission is clearly stated on the top of one of the about pages. Yet, it doesn’t seem to appear anywhere on the company’s U.S. site. (In fact, if you do a Google search for “Amazon mission statement,” it is the U.K. site that comes up in the search results, not the U.S. website.)
On the U.S. version of the website, you have to dive into Amazon’s annual report to find its mission statement. Even then, it isn’t clearly denoted. Instead, it is included as part of the general information about the business. Unless you know that it is the company’s formal mission statement, it seems like more of a sentence that talks about what the business wants to do versus being its most fundamental goal.
You could argue that, as long as the employees know what it is—such as by including it in the employee handbook or within the business’s internal memos—that’s all that matters. However, making your mission statement easy to find is also helpful for prospective employees who are researching your business. It provides greater insight into whether they have the same priorities as the company or if theirs are different, thus not being the best fit.
Tip: If someone wants to know your mission statement, how easy is it to find? Do you have it clearly displayed someplace on your website or do they have to search for it? (Including your mission statement on your “About Us” page seems to make the most sense.) Additionally, is it clearly denoted as your primary goal? If it isn’t, it may be easy to overlook.