Aside from viruses being super annoying the pandemic taught us two things: no one can predict the truths of the future and some truths are more durable than others.
When asked “what’s going to change in the next 10 years?”, Jeff Bezos ingeniously replied:
That’s an interesting question. And a very common one. I get asked it a lot. But 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. 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.” “I love Amazon; I just wish you’d deliver a little more slowly.” Impossible.
This concept of things that are stable in time (constant truths) is invaluable for startups because it helps disarm two fierce startup killers: timing and durability.
Timing - Many startups are trying to predict the exact timing of a tectonic change in the world – a wildly improbable bet. A better bet is to identify constant truths and build a business around those
Durability - Every business must constantly adapt and pivot in order to endure for decades. Yet the ones who do this successfully always remain rooted in some constant truths that barely change over time
Take the Web3 craze as an example. It is going to yield some amazing companies that will change the world – I’m nearly certain of that. But being a Web3 entrepreneur right now is going to hurt big time. No one knows what’s going to happen. It’s going to be a bloodbath. Only a tiny fraction of Web3 startups will become massively big and the rest will be subjected to rapid demise. It’s a startup lottery.
Then take a mundane space like government. I can give you 10 very real problems that the government suffers from today and will suffer from 10 years from now. Regardless of timing and your imagined ability to foresee the future, if you pick one of these problems and execute exceptionally well you will surely build a meaningful business that endures.
You don’t have enough years to play the startup lottery. Find your constant truths and execute on them for years and decades. Because they are constant, those years will not be spent in vain.