Build your business strategy around things that aren’t changing

I’m a big fan of Jeff Bezos for what he’s done at Amazon and for the things he says. I just read this on The 20 smartest things Jeff Bezos ever said:

“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.”

Paradoxically, for startups the opposite is also true, in that they are built to take advantage of a change. In Amazon’s case the change was the arrival of the internet and the constants were people’s shopping requirements – price, range and convenience. It pays to think about both the changes and the constants.