Cover Story

Why “What’s the next big thing?” is the wrong first question.


Smart business builders like Amazon’s Jeff Bezos says growth begins by creating a plan based on what you believe won’t change. Not what will change. Bezos may now be the world’s second richest guy and it’s true much of his wealth comes from his company being the one of the world’s biggest investors in R&D. Yes, that’s all about creating “what’s new?” So what gives? Bezos is wise too.
A while back he told Morgan Housel, noted business writer and investment forecaster, for The Motley Fool, “I very frequently get the question: ’What’s going to change in the next 10 years?’ but I almost never get the question? ’What’s not going to change in the next 10 years?’” Bezos thinks the last question is the more important of the two. Why? Bezos says simply, “because you can build a business strategy around things that are stable in time.”
Bezos said, “In 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.’” Yeah, right. Bezos has a sense of humour to go with his wisdom.

He’s talking about the cornerstones to any organization’s culture: Core Beliefs:
- What the founder believes it takes to be a success.
- How the employees share those beliefs.
- What their customers feel about those beliefs.

Shared beliefs become guides, like the North Star. Rock solid. They are the bases upon which all a company does and likely will ever do are built. They represent the brand. They put the “us” in “trust.” Those beliefs are something he, his people and certainly his customers now firmly hold. As long as they do Amazon will grow.
No one knows that better than Bezos, adding: “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.”
So, what are your business’ unshakable beliefs? How ingrained are they in your enterprise’s culture? Did they come from you first agreeing on "what won’t change in the next 10 years?" Successful business builders know answers to that question represent at least half of what their productive intelligence is. They also know these truths are key to identifying what will profitably change in the next 10 years. Anyway, Jeff Bezos thinks so. For what it’s worth, I do too. BL

Mike Hanson is a B2B copywriter. For more information, call 416.200.2430 or email