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.
That’s the advice of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, highlighted in an interesting post about Uber’s big ambitions by venture capitalist Bill Gurley.
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.
“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,” Bezos says.
To help it achieve lower prices, Uber has poured time and money into the back-end routing algorithms of its app and an intelligence system for demand prediction, congestion prediction, supply matching, supply positioning, smart dispatch, and dynamic pricing, Gurley points out. It has launched UberPool — a ride-sharing option that Gurley argues has become one of the company’s defining initiatives.
As Uber hustles away on making UberPool a success, it is perfectly achieving Bezos’ strategy. It is making a big investment in something that will never change (people wanting to pay less for transportation).
The things Bezos predicted would always be true for Amazon customers is that they’d always want lower prices and speedy shipping. So, the company has spent the last 11 years investing in those things — often forgoing profits to do so.
To work towards those things, Amazon has spent billions on building fulfillment and sortation centres all over the US and the world, a topic which came up on its fourth quarter earnings call on Thursday.
“What’s happened over the course of last several years, with all the fulfillment centres that we have added, is we have actually gotten selection closer to customers,” CFO Tom Szkutak said. “And so that’s helped us from a delivery speed standpoint. And it’s helped us from a cost standpoint too — in terms of transportation cost — because of being closer to our customers.”
It’s been a long, un-ending effort, but worth-it, since customers will always value Amazon’s fast delivery options.
Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through his personal investment company Bezos Expeditions.