The most common strategy all innovators use to create new industries is to take advantage of an emerging trend or technology. It’s becoming harder to pull that off because we’re living in the “next big thing” economy, one where every new product and service is a gimmick looking for a market.
Still, a good 99% of the conversations about the future are about what’s changing, what that means and what to do about it. I’m guilty of it myself. And while it’s important to discuss these matters, the flip side of that is even more important: what won’t change.
Some things don’t change. Find them, and you can make a fortune.
Think about it, do we want more hassles and stress in the future? Do we want things to be more expensive, complex, risky and painful?
Focusing on what won’t change has been at the center of Jeff Bezos’ strategy for Amazon. Bezos suggests that you should build a business strategy around the things you know are stable in time — like that customers will always prefer lower prices — and then invest heavily in ensuring you are providing those things and improving your delivery of them all the time.
The core of your business should be built around things that won’t change. Things that people are going to want today and ten years from now. Those are the things you should invest in.
Here’s the full quote from Bezos:
“I very frequently get the question: ‘What’s going to change in the next 10 years?’ And that is a very interesting question; it’s a very common one. I almost never get the question: ‘What’s not going to change in the next 10 years?’ And I submit to you that that second question is actually the more important of the two — because you can build a business strategy around the things that are stable in time. … [I]n our retail business, we know that customers want low prices, and I know that’s going to be true 10 years from now. They want fast delivery; they want vast selection. It’s impossible to imagine a future 10 years from now where a customer comes up and says, ‘Jeff I love Amazon; I just wish the prices were a little higher,’ [or] ‘I love Amazon; I just wish you’d deliver a little more slowly.’ Impossible. And so the effort we put into those things, spinning those things up, we know the energy we put into it today will still be paying off dividends for our customers 10 years from now. When you have something that you know is true, even over the long term, you can afford to put a lot of energy into it.”
Bottom line: If you want to build a successful, sustainable business, don’t ask yourself what could change in the next ten years that could affect your company. Instead, ask yourself what won’t change, and then put all your energy and effort into those things.