I very frequently get the question, “What’s going to change in the next ten 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 ten 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. In our retail business, we know that customers want low prices. And I know that’s going to be true ten years from now. They want fast delivery. They want vast selection. It’s impossible to imagine a future ten years from now where a customer comes up and says, “Jeff, I love Amazon. I just wish the prices were a little higher”. “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 ten 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.
Interesting ideas here on starting a business. Keep it simple. Keep it boring.
Biz schools focus on high-status businesses: high tech, biotech, medical devices, environmental technology, multinational corporations, etc. I teach my clients the opposite: start a low-status business, the grungier the better. That way you’re competing with less capable business owners. Few Stanford or Harvard graduates aspire to owning diesel repair shops, mobile home park cleaning, installing and removing home-for-sale signs from lawns, shoeshine stands, cleaning out and installing cabinets in basements and garages, gourmet food trucks, rehabbing tenant-damaged apartment buildings, carts selling soup, scarves, knockoff designer purses, French soap, or coffee, or placing and maintaining laundry machines in apartment buildings. It’s far easier to compete successfully in such low-status businesses. I teach my clients, “Status is the enemy of success.”
Biz schools focus on intellectually meaty, complex businesses like the aforementioned high-tech, biotech, etc.. Alas, the more complex the business, the more that can go wrong. I teach my clients to choose a simple business, such as those I list in the previous paragraph. Each business location may yield insufficient profit to support a family but, once you’ve refined the concept, as I said, just clone your simple business in another location(s.)
An economy that is more entrepreneurial, less managerial, would be less subject to the kind of distortions that occur when corporate managers’ compensation is tied to the short-term profit of distant shareholders. For most entrepreneurs, profit is at once a more capacious and a more concrete thing than this. It is a calculation in which the intrinsic satisfactions of work count.